Episode #2 – Originally Recorded 1981
R.J. Rushdoony discusses a variety of subjects and books on this second episode of the Easy Chair which was originally recorded in 1981.
The Politicization of Society – Kenneth S. Templton Jr.
Decadence: Radical Nostalgia, Narcissim, and Decline in the Seventies – Jim Hougan
Legitimacy in the Modern State – John H. Schaar
A Gerorgian at Princeton – Robert Manson Myers
The Child Savers: Juvenile Justice Observed – Peter S. Prescott
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Speaker 1: The Reconstructionist Radio Podcast Network presents The Easy Chair with R. J. Rushdoony.
Speaker 2: The Easy Chair with R. J. Rushdoony is brought to you by the Chalcedon Foundation and the GCS Apprenticeship Program. For more information, visit chalcedon.edu and gcsapprenticeship.com.
R. J. Rushdoony: This is R. J. Rushdoony with the second of our Easy Chair tapes. Thank you for the comments that have thus far come in. We have heard from several of you, all favorable to this format. One suggestion has been that I take questions and answer them. Now, I’m ready to do that up to a point, provided it doesn’t get to be work, because the reason why I particularly enjoy these is that it is a relaxed kind of taping, and I can share with you some of the reading that I have particularly enjoyed or found of note. So we’ll try some questions. Don’t be surprised if I don’t answer but a few, or decide that it spells too much work. Work is something I have plenty of. I’m enjoying doing this, so as long as I enjoy doing it, I shall take care of the questions.
Now, the first book I want to comment briefly on is a symposium with a number of very distinguished writers. It is edited by Kenneth S. Templeton, Jr. The title: The Politicization of Society. It is published by Liberty Press at 7440 North Shadeland, Indianapolis, Indiana 46250. The cost is $10. It’s not a great book, but it’s a good book, and a solid one. It calls attention to a very important point, namely that the modern world is being heavily politicized. This has been a trend that has been coming on us for some time. As Jacques Ellul in his essay points out, we’ve reached the point where for quite a time — in fact, for a few centuries, increasingly so — “only where the state is, is history worth the name.”
We talk about the Merovingian times as the Dark Ages only because at that time, the state was inconsequential. In other words, historians have become accustomed to writing history around the theme of the state. If the state doesn’t exist, or is virtually inconsequential, then history is hard for them to write, and as a result, such an era is called the Dark Age. Now, earlier, histories were written from the perspective of the progress of Christianity, and the growth and development of a Christian civilization. From that perspective, what we call the Dark Ages was a remarkable era, a time of growing light, when Europe was brought into the faith, when many peoples of Europe who — like the Saxons — practiced human sacrifice were steadily brought within the orbit of Christianity and made a new people.
Now, the essays quote, among other things, H. L. Mencken. Mencken speaks of the state as a virtual conspiracy against the superior person, so that today, to quote Mencken, “all government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him,” unquote. On the other hand, the fact is becoming increasingly apparent that the lower-class man is beginning to feel that the state is somehow his enemy. He is increasingly frustrated because the emphasis of modern society on equalitarianism does not work, and many people who yearn to be equal to everyone else find that they are inferior. They’re not equal, using the term “equality” in the modern sense, to those round about them.
Thus, William Marina declares, and I quote, “Arthur Bremer, who shot Governor George Wallace of Alabama in 1972, is a rather pathetic example of this frustrated egalitarianism. From his Diary, we learn that it mattered little to Bremer whom he shot; a more important person simply meant more publicity. Throughout the Diary are four-letter words and a constant reference to ‘failure.’ The degree of self-hatred is overpowering. It seems likely in this epoch of egalitarianism that increasing frustration and violence can only result when many individuals find they cannot achieve the success that egalitarians promised as everyone’s ‘right.'” Unquote.
The point there is well taken. It’s worth considering, and perhaps someone should make a more extended study of that particular point. What happens when people are told they are as good as the best man around, when the fact is, they are emphatically not so? Will it not create the kind of frustration, and then hostility, which Marina seems to feel is behind the violence and the assassinations of our era? It’s a point well worth considering. Moreover, one of the things of interest — again, Marina calls attention to this — is the work of Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy, whom a radical thinker of a few years ago, Wilson, called perhaps the most brilliant political theorist in American history. Marina says that Stephens’s “insights have not received the attention they deserve.” Stephens “called attention to the war as an example of the trend towards empire and centralization.”
And he wrote, and I quote, this is Stephens: “If centralism is ultimately to prevail; if our entire system of free institutions as established by our common ancestors is to be subverted, and an Empire is to be established in their stead; if that is to be the last scene of the great tragic drama now being enacted: then, be assured, that we of the South will be acquitted, not only in our own consciences, but in the judgment of mankind, of all responsibility for so terrible a catastrophe, and from all guilt of so great a crime against humanity.” Unquote. In my book The Nature of the American System, I have a chapter on Stephens, a most remarkable man.
Well, of course, the point of The Politicization of American Society is well stated in the title. Our world today is politicizing everything. Instead of everything being seen from the perspective of our faith, from a God-centered perspective, we are seeing all things from the perspective of the state. This should not surprise us. It is in line with the modern political theories, whether they be Democratic or Republican or Fascist or Marxist, all of which stem from Hegel, who held that the state is God walking on earth, that Geist, the Spirit, which is in nature, incarnates itself in the state, so that the state becomes the incarnation of this evolving world, and the spirit or mind that inhabits nature. This means that unless we come back to a systematic Christianity which speaks to every area of life and thought, we have no future. A simple political conservatism will not cope with the situation, because it will fall sway to the essential humanism of modern life.
We’ll come back to the matter of the modern state in a little while, but I’d like to comment on something in a totally different vein now. One of the things that marks our modern age is not only the supremacy of the state: the exaltation of the scientist into a kind of new priest. If the scientist says something, then it has authority. A very amusing example of this took place in England not too long ago. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Davis of London could not get along. In fact, they disagreed so strongly they got a divorce. Then they both went to a matrimonial bureau where computer mating was the order of the day. And here was a scientific device which matched you up with the person you are most suited to. Well, lo and behold, out of the thousands of names in the computer, Walter Davis and his wife were found to be perfectly suited one to another, so they got each other as their first date. They dutifully remarried; after all, science had spoken, and how could they dissent? They could have saved themselves a lot of money.
Well, to go on to another absurdity of science, you know, we have our doomsayers today who tell us that the world is coming to an end. A few of them are on the side of religion. We had somebody in Arizona recently — I believe it was Arizona — who was predicting that he and his little group were going to be raptured out of this world because it was the end of the world that was imminent. That got a lot of front-page coverage. And Hal Lindsey has set several dates and revised them; I think the first was ’74 or ’75. But what we tend to forget, because it is not held up to the same kind of ridicule, is the doomsaying, “The end is coming as predicted by science.”
If you’ll go back to my little book The Myth of Overpopulation, I criticize there the views of Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford scientist who predicted that overpopulation was going to create disaster in not too many years, sometime in the ’70s. And I also quoted from a book that had the date 1975 in its title. The authors were predicting world famine through overpopulation by 1975. Now, this kind of thing is routine in science. The predictions are made, and we are given all kind of scare talks, but the due date comes and passes, and nothing is said.
I know that back in the ’20s, when I was in school, as a very small grade-school boy, I was regularly told in science classes that by the time I graduated from college, the world would have run out of oil, and we would be sitting in darkness, and all our automobiles would have come to a halt. Well, I heard that again a little later, when I was in college, that it would take place in so many years. The due date has come and been passed several times, and our reserves have only increased. Because our ability to go down into the earth has increased from a few hundred feet to many, many miles, we haven’t begun to tap the oil resources of this world.
Well, of course, we have predictions of destruction of the ecosphere by air, land, and/or water pollution. Genocide by pesticide. Interruption of the food chain through this or that kind of blunder that mankind is supposedly creating. Thermal buildup created by industrial emissions leading to a greenhouse effect that will alter the climate, melt the ice caps on the poles, flood New York and Washington, DC, London, and a good deal of the world. Or we will be wiped out by nuclear radiation because of our power plants, and through leakage from plutonium waste containers and so on. Or oxygen will be destroyed by the destruction of green plant life, or, of course, overpopulation and mass famine because of overpopulation. And destruction or dispersion of the ozone concentration in the upper atmosphere by supersonic aircraft, radiation, chlorine gas emissions from spray cans, and so on and so on. Anything you do nowadays is, according to these scientists, going to destroy the earth, and its doom down the road. Or, of course, bugs that are created, superbugs, from biowarfare factories. They’re going to escape one of these days, we’re told, and they’re going to destroy the world.
Well, we have an especially grim scenario that I just read about. It was published in The New Scientist, and then incorporated in a book by Hougan entitled Decadence. According to this scenario, man is on the brink of extinction. What is going to kill us all? Why, animal rumination. Now the scientist and/or scientists who propound this are being a little prissy about their language. “Rumination” means chewing the cud; ruminants are those animals like cows that chew the cud. And, of course, it’s cows they’re talking about, but it isn’t chewing the cud that they’re really talking about when they speak about “world of death through animal rumination.” It’s the gas these cows are going to make in their stomachs and let out of their intestines. And we are told that this, of course, is an excessive release of methane gas, because we have become a meat-eating civilization, and so we are breeding cows like mad, and we are covering the earth with cattle, and think of all the methane gas these cows are releasing.
Well, methane gas is lighter than air. “It rises into the upper atmosphere” — I’m quoting — “where it mixes with ozone to cause the decay of both. Depleting the ozone is nothing short of catastrophic, because it functions as an ultraviolet screen, preventing the sun’s most harmful rays from frying people on the ground.” Well, we’re going to be choked to death, asphyxiated by methane gas emitted by cows. I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to these characters that at one time, we had more buffaloes on the Great Plains, extending back into Pennsylvania, than we have cows in the United States now.
But the new priests of society, the scientists, are sure that they have the answer, and they know when the world is coming to an end, and they come up with wilder and wilder scenarios. The poor man in Arizona really was an amateur when it came to predicting the end of the world. Leave it to the scientists that come up with the absolutely ridiculous scenarios of the end. I wonder sometimes if they can do this with a straight face, but of course, they take themselves very seriously. Worse yet, too many people take them seriously.
But now, going from scientists, the ridiculous, to something a little more serious, but not sublime. A book published this year is John H. Schaar, S-C-H-A-A-R, Legitimacy in the Modern State, published by Transaction Books, which is a branch of the Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903. I do not know what the price of it is. The title is Legitimacy in the Modern State, John H. Schaar. Now, Schaar is a true-blue liberal. He apparently, judging by the text, liked the student movements of the 1960s. He feels that one of the great facts in the history of America has been our liberation from religion. This is his statement on page 296. I say this to give you something of the mentality of Dr. Schaar, a university professor. But he is worried, very much worried about the future. Why? Because authority is gone.
Well, why not? Once you deny God as the source of all law and authority, who can be your authority? If it is man, any man will say, “I’m as good as he,” especially with our equalitarian philosophy. If you say it is the state, the citizen can say, “But the state is my creature, and I reserve the right to veto what the state says.” So authority is gone. Once you deny God, you break down authority, because humanistic authority does not stand. The book of Judges said, “In those days, there was no king in Israel.” The people did not recognize God as their king, and as a result, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” This is the theme of the book of Judges. That particular sentence appears several times, because the whole book is written to illustrate the fact that when men depart from God, they depart from authority. Every man then does that which is right in his own eyes.
Well, Schaar has a problem, but he won’t recognize why the problem has developed. For example, he says on page 2 … And his foreword, a long foreword, is brilliant. He states the problem, but he comes up with no answers in the rest of the book. But he says on page 2, and I quote, “Concerning authority, I believe that genuine authority is all but lost to us today, and that perhaps we have lost even the concept of authority, so that we cannot know what honorable obedience consists in. This is no small loss, and no amount of liberation will make up for it, because if we do not know what authority is, we cannot know what liberty is either. Perhaps that is why so many people today find themselves as bewildered and unsatisfied after a succession of liberations as they were before.” Unquote.
That is powerfully stated, and he is right, of course. If we do not know what authority is, we cannot know what liberty is either. Well, but what is the answer? He doesn’t have one. He say, and I quote, “We can feel the chill of some sentences Henry Adams wrote over 60 years ago,” and he quotes Henry Adams thus: “The assumption of unity which was the mark of human thought in the Middle Ages has yielded very slowly to the proofs of complexity. Yet it is quite sure that, at the accelerated rate of progression shown since 1600, it will not need another century or half century to tip thought upside down. Law, in that case, would disappear as theory or a priori principle, and give place to force. Morality would become police. Explosives would reach cosmic violence. Disintegration would overcome integration.” Unquote.
Well, Schaar is right. We are facing a crisis because authority has been denied, and we are, as he says, nearing the end of an era. But what is the solution? He admits — he’s a political scientist — and I quote, “The recent disturbances and novelties in the modern states have taken the political science profession largely by surprise,” unquote. And why not? These people have presupposed that man is what Christian civilization made him. But as they have de-Christianized modern man, they suddenly find there is no safety in the streets, and very often, not in the classrooms either. So they are taken by surprise. Well, good. They’ve created this with their attacks on Christianity, with their secularization of society, and now they’re concerned with what is happening.
Of course, Schaar is concerned, and he makes a plea for some kind of unity and authority, and he says, “We are members one of another.” He is quoting St. Paul without acknowledging it. He repeats that statement, but without St. Paul’s faith, we cannot be members one of another. The Soviet Union has tried for over 50 years to make people members one of another without faith, and it has not worked. And today, we are trying to accomplish the same thing again, without faith. It will not work, so that you have a crisis of legitimacy. Who has authority? No one can say. The political scientists cannot say, “We decree that it should be thus and so,” because they have no binding authority over man.
So Schaar is right on this point, the … And I quote, “The whole question of legitimacy will have to be reopened,” unquote. But it can only be reopened by dealing with it at its heart. True authority comes from God alone. Jesus Christ says in the Great Commission, “All power” — or it can be translated “all authority,” because the word means both — “on heaven and in earth is given unto me.” So any attempt to have authority in the modern state apart from God is a failure. Only the sword, brute power, can rule.
Well, we have touched on what scientists have to say about the end of the world, and political scientists about authority. I’m tempted at this point to say about all these scholars what Winston Churchill once said about Sir Stafford Cripps. He called attention to Cripps, who was going by, and he said, “There but for the grace of God goes God.” And I think that’s a choice statement. Churchill sometimes had a biting wit. He spoke of Clement Attlee as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing.” Another time, he said of Clement Attlee, “He is a modest little man with much to be modest about.” I like also a line, because in Parliament, sometimes the insults are rather choice, and the wit rather biting. One man, Robert Boothby, said with regard to the National Health Service, socialized medicine, and what it was going to do for England, he said, “Here is a pretty prospect: an endless vista of free false teeth with nothing to bite.”
Well, while we’re on the subject of things amusing, one of my favorite stories actually happened, it was reported by the United Press and confirmed. It happened in Prague. This woman, Vera Czernak, had her husband come home to their upper-story apartment — third-story, in fact — to say that he was leaving her for another woman. His mind was made up, nothing could change it, so he left her. She thought for a few moments, and she decided life was not worth living, so she opened the window and jumped out. Well, as Lord would have it, she landed on her husband, who had just stepped out of the door, and killed him, but she was not seriously hurt. That’s what you call poetic justice. Another story that I like is about the young man in Taiwan who was madly in love with a girl, and he wrote her 700 love letters in two years’ time recently, trying to get her to marry him. Well, the letter-writing got results: the girl married the mailman.
Now to go on to something else. One of the books that was a very great delight to me of late was Robert Manson Myers, M-Y-E-R-S, who edits the letters of the Jones family from 1850 to 1852. The Jones family was a Georgia family, and the title of the book is A Georgian at Princeton. It was published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1976 for $12.95. The senior Jones was a southern Presbyterian theologian. His son, Junior, went north to Princeton. The papers of this family have been and are being edited by Dr. Myers, and they are gems, because they tell us a great deal about Christian life in the South. They are, at times, very, very moving. The diary of the senior Jones was published earlier as The Children of Pride. But we have a very different view of the South here than most scholars choose to give us.
Now, without for a moment agreeing with slavery, we have to say that obviously, the slaves were very commonly considered members of the family. What happened to them concerned their masters, and this comes through very strongly in Myers’s letters. For example, in this letter to his brother and sister, written from April 17th, 1850, he describes the illness and death of one of the slaves. I’m going to read somewhat at length.
He speaks of their deep affliction, and goes on to say, “Our faithful old friend and servant Jack was taken with the prevailing cold two weeks ago. Got nearly well of it, and coming out into the damp, cold weather one morning before breakfast, took a relapse. A dreadful ague came on in the night. Dr. Trezevant came a little after daylight, bled and relieved him, and for 48 hours everything was well with him. And then he took a turn for the worse. On Sunday, hope began to give way, and on Monday, all was gone. And last night — or rather this morning, half past two o’clock — he passed away from us. And we have now nothing of the good old faithful man but his cold body sleeping placidly in death, his countenance wearing that smile of life which you remember was so natural and constant with him. I was with him night and day, and am worn down with anxiety and watching. Almost every dose of medicine he took and every spoonful of nourishment he took from my hands.
“It is a heavy stroke to Mary and myself and the children. It is the loss not only of one of the most faithful and excellent long-tried servants, but of a devoted, long-tried and affectionate friend to us, and to all our family. Jack was one of the family. I know you will sympathize with us and shed a tear for the old man. But oh, how happy was his deathbed. Not a murmur; a smile for everybody, and his mind clear and stayed on his Savior to the last. His exercises were very remarkable. No doubt; no distress. He expressed himself ready to depart. Told his mistress ‘he was in God’s sight but a filthy rag,’ but ‘his hope was in Jesus,’ and that ‘his Savior was shedding unnumbered mercies all around him.’ He told me ‘it was a blessed thing to have a good master and mistress,’ and that ‘he could not begin to speak of God’s mercies to him.’
“Seeing that he was failing on Monday night, I told Marcia — who had been attacked with the same disease, pneumonia, and was lying ill on a cot in the same room — that Jack was not to be long with us, and if she wished to see and converse with him she had better do so now. She, poor thing, could not believe it; said it could not be death; that it was the turn in the sickness, and I had better send for the doctor. I helped her on her feet, and she staggered and put her hand on his forehead and cheek and said: ‘Jack, you know me?’ ‘Oh yes, Marcia child,’ and then gave his parting counsel in a most clear and touching manner, and begged her no longer to put off her soul’s salvation.
“I had all the family called, white and black; and as each one came up, he took them one by one by the hand and charged them in the Lord and commended them to God. His reception of Charles was affecting. He was very fond of him, and when I said: ‘Jack, here is Charles,’ he reached his hand and said: ‘Oh, my young master, this is my whole heart.’ He was very affectionate to his mistress, and said to her: ‘I am sorry to leave you. I know you will miss me.’ He would catch her voice sooner than any other person; frequently told her ‘it was peace with him’ We then prayed with him. Whenever religion was mentioned, a smile would come over his countenance. Indeed, it seemed as if the sun shone on his dying bed all the time, and suffered no cloud to rest there. When he was not able to speak above a whisper, I asked him: ‘Jack, is your mind at rest? Is Christ still precious to you?’ And he smiled and raised his hand toward heaven.”
He goes on to describe the situation, the death, their grief, the funeral service, and how Jack’s favorite portions of Scripture were read. Now, this gives us a different picture than most historians give us, and a true picture. So when we deal with the wrongs of slavery, we also have to deal with the human factor, and the fact that amidst the fact of slavery, there was also very often a strong personal bond, and love as well.
There’s much more in this book. I quoted a passage of it in one Chalcedon Report a while back, where the senior Jones writes to his son, Charles C. Jones, Jr., who is at Princeton. The northern Presbyterians at that time had fallen sway to the heresy that was sweeping the North, which began in the late ’20s, and by 1850 was fairly prevalent, namely antinomianism. For untold centuries, the Church had regarded the Old Testament and the New as equally the Word of God, and the Law of God as binding upon all. But now, young Jones meets people at Princeton Theological Seminary, supposedly the great bastion of the faith in the North, who deny the Law — who deny, for example, such an obvious thing as capital punishment — and the father writes to the son to set him straight on that.
There are many delightful tidbits in the book. I liked one passage where a woman, an old woman, comments on a sermon that they all hear. The sermon was emphatically not to her taste; she found it radically dull, and so she … When she came out of the service and was asked about the sermon, said, “If his text had the smallpox, his sermon would not catch it.” I’ve heard sermons like that. I thought that was delightful. The book as a whole is full of very vivid and moving glimpses into life in the early 1850s, 1850 to 1852, as well as student life. So it is a gem, and I think you will enjoy it.
There are references also to many people of prominence. The senior Jones was a prominent theological figure of his day, and in the course of his travels in and about the country, because he surveyed missionary work, he met and talked, too, with a great many important people. He visited, for example, Andrew Jackson, the adopted son of the president, and comments about the former general and president, and says, “He was a soundly converted man some years before he died, and his Bible and hymn book and confession of faith were always upon his stand. He’d led a life of devotion, and you remember his calm triumph in death, in the merits and intercession of the Divine Redeemer. The Hermitage Church, a neat brick edifice which he assisted to build, stands immediately opposite the road leading to his house, where it comes into the public turnpike leading to Nashville. It stands upon his own grounds, and it was in this building that Dr. Edgar received him into the communion of the Presbyterian Church. Yes, it was the fact that this extraordinary man died a Christian that interested me most of all when I stood at his tomb.
“I followed the gentleman into the house after conversing a few moments with a gardener and picking some sweet shrubs. Mr. Andrew Jackson, the general’s adopted son, now heirs the estate, a calm, pleasant, gentlemanly man, and a consistent and hardy member of the Presbyterian Church. This visit to the hermitage was grateful to me, and I wished for you and my children many, many times. Dr. Edgar, who was an intimate friend of General Jackson, interested us with a fund of anecdotes of his life, and reminiscences of his Christian life, which I must try to remember and tell you when we meet.”
Well, A Georgian at Princeton is a book that takes you backward in time. There’s a delight in its pages, so that you hate to put it down. For a moment, you are with people of a bygone age, good, solid people. I’m tempted to go a little further in the book, and give you his advice — in brief, sketchily — to his two sons as they go away to college. He says, “In the first place, then, we trust that you will regularly — twice each day, morning and evening — seriously, reverently, and teachably, read a portion of God’s holy Word and pray to Him in secret, as you have been taught thus to do from your earliest years. So we hope you will never omit this sacred and necessary duty. Second, that you will conscientiously remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, frequenting the house of God at least twice in the day, and spending the rest of its hours in reading the Scriptures and good books, and in meditation and in prayer, and in consistent company and conversation.
“Third, that you will shun with horror any suggestions or opinions, whether advocated by living men or advanced by authors in books, no matter how distinguished in the world for science or learning or wisdom, that would lead you to disbelieve, or even to doubt in the least degree the truth of God’s holy Word. Let God be true, though every man be a liar. Fourth, that you will devote yourselves faithfully and conscientiously to your studies, and make every improvement in your power, and not misspend your time, nor abuse your advantages. In order to do this, you must preserve your health by a rigid system of diet, rest, and exercise. Fifth, as you have always been advocates of temperance and have never discarded as unnecessary, expensive, and” … Or rather, “and have discarded as unnecessary, expensive, and positively injurious, and therefore immoral, the use of ardent spirits and of tobacco in all their forms, so we trust that you will never, under any circumstances or influences, depart from these good opinions and habits.
“Sixth, we trust that you will avoid the company and association of profane, Sabbath-breaking, idle, intemperate, immoral, and dissipated young men. Seventh, that you will abstain from engaging in all games of chance, as dice, cards, lotteries, et cetera. Eighth, that you will go to no theater nor circus nor horse race, nor to any place of dissipated or of low amusement. Ninth, that you will not be out of your room at night, except it be at some proper meeting connected with the college or the service of religion, or at the house of respectable friends. Tenth, that you will avoid engaging in any college riots or rebellions.” That sounds modern, does it not? But they had them then. “Eleventh, that you will always endeavor to respect the feelings and rights and circumstances of your fellow men, and conduct yourselves as well-bred gentlemen and men of character.
“Twelfth, that you will be economical in your expenditures and never run in debt, but meet all your pecuniary engagements upon your word and to your word. Thirteen, embrace opportunities for a favorable introduction into respectable religious and honorable families, and improve yourselves by the best associations. Fourteenth, you will always remember that you are own and dear brothers. Therefore, be respectful, kind, accommodating, patient, generous, and affectionate to each other. Fifteenth, and we add in conclusion, our dear sons, what we have always endeavored to inculcate and impress upon you: that you remember your God and your Redeemer, and the priceless value of your immortal souls, and the near approach of death, judgment, and eternity, and never be at peace until you have obtained that good part which shall not be taken away from you.”
Well, this gives you something of the flavor of this book. A beautiful book, a pleasure to read. Now to go on to something which is of a grimmer character, a very recent book is Peter S. Prescott, The Child Savers, published by Alfred A. Knopf, K-N-O-P-F, 1981. I do not know the price of this book. It is an account of the juvenile courts, or juvenile justice, in New York City. It is a very grim account of what a monstrous thing our juvenile courts have become. The sad fact is that the courts, which are supposed to work for rehabilitation, can do nothing. Murderers are turned loose, the cure is seen by all too many involved as more money, the homes or rehabilitation places are rife with homosexuality and homosexual rape. It’s an ugly picture that we get from this book. It shows us the modern humanistic state in decay.
The people attached to this system are beginning to see its defects. The author quotes one judge as saying, “We’re not miracle workers, and yet people expect miracles from this court. That’s why we have such a bad reputation. I’m deeply disturbed by the number of people who use this court to settle family problems. We can’t do much. I had a mother in here recently who complained that her 15-year-old son assaults her. The boy hasn’t lived at home since he was 13. He has a five-month-old baby and lives by stealing. He burned a house down on commission so the owner could collect insurance. He told his mother he’d do it, and he did. I got him here on a warrant. I don’t issue summons to kids — they won’t obey them — but there is nothing I or the court can do to help this kid. He’ll be picked up on some felony soon, and do some time.” Unquote.
Well, we have a civilization in decay. We’ve commented earlier on the collapse of authority, on how humanism is producing a radically godless culture, and we see this in the juvenile courts. Everything is breaking down, and yet the courts are full of lawyers and social workers and judges who believe in environmentalism. And yet it has been again and again demonstrated that putting up new housing does not change people. The evil is in the hearts of men, not in their houses, not in their environments, and until men are changed, they will reduce the best housing to a shambles. Indeed, even the courts, the new courts are reduced to a shambles.
For example, the author cites a huge new building, family court building, and he said, and I quote, “The new building is equipped with such hitherto unthinkable amenities as elevators and air conditioning; with large waiting rooms containing glass-framed tapestries of some vaguely modern design; with interview rooms; a nursery, seldom used for lack of a supervisor; a Victim Services Agency, where complainants can wait for their hearings without having to confront their assailants; and larger courtrooms which, according to Bill Logan, look like some kind of conference room. The new court really is an improvement, and Logan is pleased with it, though in retrospect, he misses the camaraderie of the old building. Those cramped quarters certainly brought people together. The new building, he says in 1980, ‘is falling apart already.’ Most of the furniture has been stolen from the interview rooms. Chairs, coatracks have gone. Only the heavier tables remain, and someone stole the stereo from the Victim Services Agency. ‘We’ll have it in the same condition as the old court in no time at all,’ Logan says cheerfully. ‘You can take the boys out of the old building, but you can’t take the old building out of the boys.'” Unquote.
Well, enough of this, because our time is about finished, but this gives you something of the picture of our problem today. Modern man is creating a world of disarray, of disorder. He will not turn to the only thing that can change it, Jesus Christ. And Christians, by and large, because they go to these problems without the whole Word of God, without the Law Word of God, are also unarmed as they face the monstrous situation of the modern world. But God is the Lord, and His will shall be done. And we believe very firmly that only as men return to God’s Word in its totality, acknowledging Christ as Lord and obeying His every word, that we can turn this world around. We know it will be done, if not by us, by those who succeed us, because the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Thus saith the Lord, and when God says it will be so, it shall be so. Well, until next time, this winds up our current Easy Chair Talk. Thank you.
Speaker 2: Thank you for listening to The Easy Chair with R. J. Rushdoony. Please visit chalcedon.edu for more materials by R. J. Rushdoony and the Chalcedon Foundation.
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