If there is one thing that unites Right and Left right now, it is the darkness that surrounds us. Crime and savagery are on the rise, and there is growing fear and disdain on all sides. To cope with these emotions, people naturally tend to look to the media to shed some light on our problems . . . but the only light we see amounts to flickers—something akin to the lighters handed out at rock concerts in the ’70s and ’80s. These little lights—just bits of information, really—are sometimes correct, but often not. They are meant to shepherd us.
But to whom? And where?
Donald Trump seems to be yesterday’s demon, his horns and pitchfork having lost their luster, so the media is training its sites on Twitter CEO Elon Musk. They have his red suit ready and waiting and it’s not a cheery Santa suit. Musk’s role has been chosen for him. Given our polarized times, while he may be a villain to some, he will naturally be a hero to others. At all events, he is certainly a star.
What are we to make of this? What does it mean and what are we to do? Human stars, like celestial ones, can and do implode. At this time of year we should be asking, instead, “How do we find a redeemer?” Is there one out there for us?
When we make angels and demons of men, we make a grievous mistake—especially now that we are in the season of reflection and light. If we cannot see a way forward, we will be vulnerable to anyone offering a light, anyone promising to deliver us.
It is true that the would-be saviors of this world can have laudable traits. They run the gauntlets we can’t. Moguls like Musk, Trump, and others promise a brighter, more secure life with basic human rights and constitutional freedoms intact. These are tempting lights in a darkening world.
While they flicker, however, we continue to be shocked at the horror of the world around us. There is an still unsolved murder of co-eds in Idaho and we are appalled by the open acceptance by notable celebrities like the Kardashians of Balenciaga’s child-porn pictorial. Balenciaga withdrew the campaign quickly, but their weak letter of apology was rejected by most of us who know evil when we see it.
Yet, why do we depend on the rich to speak up before we can accept something as settled? Because most humans, even wealthy ones, fear the mob. The Kardashians’ fear of losing their wealth has constrained their consciences rather than freed them. Between them, Musk, Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis, Tucker Carlson, and other prominent personalities on the Right have tremendous financial and social power. But can they really save us from dictatorship, socialism, censors, pornographers, gender blur and Biden’s Justice Department or IRS? Maybe, but probably not.
Even the wealthiest and most powerful men find themselves, at times, having to bend the knee, not just to other rich men, but to the more sinister dark princes of this world—because, like all of us, they are agathokakological—that is, they are composed of both good and evil.
In times of darkness, we turn to light. Not the trendy “fairy lights,” but to the one true Light God sent to redeem all of us, saving us from eternal darkness. This year, it is essential to light the candles of Advent with the purest of the spiritual intentions. Prayers act like yeast for our spiritual lives, fermenting and causing us to rise to action. It is in small places that are dim but not dark that we can gather the strength needed to fight the onslaught of moral decay we see around us.
Advent, derived from the Latin word adventus, means coming. Christians prepare for Christ; many light candles and use calendars that we started on November 27. The purple candles sit on our kitchen and dining room tables. The purple candles stand for reflection and penance and, as the third week approaches, the pink reminds us of the great joy of the faithful who rest assured in the knowledge that the Savior will come.
If you use an advent calendar, fill it with spiritual sayings as well as candies. Encourage acts of resolve and courage in the public space. Practice active kindness. Denounce creeping evil. Find the courage to do what Christ asks of you and be who you know Christ wants you to be. This is how the Savior will reign.
Hanukkah begins December 18. This holiday is not and never has been a “Jewish Christmas.” The phrase is derogatory and demeans the beauty of this commemoration, and this year as the eight candles are lit, the observant need to recall and channel the courage of the Maccabeean revolt and pray that our resolve and commitment to challenge the status quo does not run out. Pray for that kind of miracle again.
Such miracles of conscience will not be found in a Musk or a Trump or in whomever is rich and powerful enough to lead us. We will only find this power in ourselves if we have the courage to seek it. The challenges of our time can only be met through prayer and spiritual devotion.
It is time to talk not of resolutions for the coming year but of being resolute. Biden’s cry that we are in a battle for the soul of the country is correct. We are. But his malevolent and corrupt vision can’t save us.
We are challenged to look inward before we look outward for salvation. Physical and spiritual hunger knocks at our door and gnaws at our souls. To whom shall we go? For some the answers are found in the Talmud and Torah, and for many of us it is found in the teaching of Jesus Christ who told his disciples to love one another as He loved them and to treat others as they would like to be treated.
This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and there is no shame in speaking their truth—but first, we must remember it for ourselves. That is why we must be resolute in our actions and choices during this holy, light-filled season.