“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” — Edmund Burke
Saint Paul was inspired to write about important things. It is possible that his entire life was planned by God as a kind of metaphor for the ages to come. Raised a Jew in Tarsus, Asia Minor, he nevertheless belonged naturally to the cultural elite of the Greco-Roman world. After being instructed at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most important Jewish teachers of that age, Saul of Tarsus became a sort of Great Inquisitor. We are introduced to Saul as he travels from Jerusalem to Damascus, empowered by the High Sanhedrin to put the members of a new heretic sect in chains. After a supernatural encounter with Jesus, Saul is cured of his spiritual blindness and turned into a Christian who would write letters while in chains to promote that very same Jewish heresy he was sworn to destroy.
Paul, to use his Christian name, never ceased to be a Jew. When God transforms men He never discards the original material. Paul was purified, his talents were redirected, and he grew to be something he never imagined he could possibly be: one of the founders of classic Christian thought whose words would resound through the ages even to this day.
He is the one chosen to communicate to the world the great parable that is Israel. Jesus, the Master who taught in parables, used Paul to unveil the secret mission of God’s chosen people: to be a living example and a vessel that would both conceal within and reveal without the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Paul wrote about that great parable often:
“For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-11
You probably noticed that this passage is like one of those Russian matriushka dolls that are contained one inside the other. We see a series of allegories of the Christian sacraments: Baptism in water in the cloud and the sea, Holy Communion in the partaking of manna, the miraculous bread. All of that points to the Rock, which in turn symbolizes Christ. Then comes the bad example, the idolatrous conduct of Israel while Moses was away receiving the Word of God up on the mountain, or the failure of some in that nation to keep their purity when they indulged in the company of the immoral inhabitants of Canaan. Paul is the first to see all of those stories as something written in History by the hand of God for the benefit of those who are to face the end of time. Paul is the first, to my knowledge, to see History as a lesson aimed at teaching the Church how to survive the most violent change that mankind will ever face.
Paul was beheaded by the Roman authorities. His venerable and wise head may have fallen to the ground but his letters had already begun their journey through time and space, bound to reach the remotest corners of the world. The pagan Roman Empire had by then began to fall under the sway of Christian ideas. In only three or four centuries it would morph into something new: Christendom. The Christian sons of ancient Rome would reach the ends of the earth with the Roman idea of order tempered by the Word of Christ. Fifteen centuries later they would sail around the world; twenty centuries after a strong Roman soldier beheaded Paul, a man named Armstrong would step on the moon after reading a passage from the book of Genesis.
By the 19th century a small club of Christian nations, the descendants of the Roman Empire controlled most of the world. The tiny band of Jewish heretics had conquered the empire of Caesar. Christendom was now like the tree described in Ezekiel 31:5-6
So it towered high,
above all the trees of the field;
its boughs grew large
and its branches long
from abundant water in its shoots.
All the birds of the heavens
made their nests in its boughs;
under its branches all the beasts of the field
gave birth to their young,
and under its shadow
lived all great nations.
The Good News, the Gospel declared by Paul to the Roman Empire was now finally available to the whole world. It was time to fulfill the prophecy of Christ:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
The enemies of Paul and the Church were about to make an appearance in the world scene. Men with strange ideas came; hate and unprecedented violence filled the world with more and more evil. Two worldwide wars were fought, and the time came for the old Christian order to die. The chosen manner of death, strangely enough, was suicide in the form of abortion and contraception. The words of Rudyard Kipling sound prophetic today, more than a century after the pangs of death began to shake Christendom’s body:
Far-called our navies melt away
On dune and headland sinks the fire
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Many of the empires of the 19th century came to an end; they lost their navies and their armies. Huge numbers of men and women perished in the Century of Wars but the greatest number of victims succumbed to the tiny contraceptive pill, and the legislator’s pen that signed the bills legalizing millions of abortions. Countries like Italy that have sent her sons and daughters by the millions to live in faraway continents are now deserts. The little town at the foot of the Alps — near the place where my great grandfather was born, after his parents had survived the cholera epidemics of the early 1800’s — has reported recently the birth of one baby, the first to be born there since 1960’s. Europe, the continent that once dominated the whole world, is now dying the slow death of low birth rate combined with the legal invasion of millions of immigrants from Asia and Africa. The situation is only slightly better in the United States, a country that has proved itself politically not capable to control (among other problems) an onslaught of unbridled illegal immigration.
For some of us these facts are not only depressing but also deeply disturbing. We identify with Paul’s choice of words: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
The parable is over. Now we are living the prophetic reality. Hiding our heads in the sand and repeating like a mantra “nobody knows the day or the hour” is not going to help. The exact day and hour may be unknown but the age is quite discernible at this point in History. We were told in advance for a reason, we were given ample warning of what was coming.
Decline of religion and population
Let me repeat that by the turn of 20th century, the western empires born from the Roman cradle and made stronger by the Christian faith were in control of most of the world. Then the age of global conflict began in earnest. Soon those nations lost control of their vast colonies and commonwealths but their greatest loss was that of their Christian faith, surrendered to ideas that had been brewing since the arrival of Illuminism. In fact the loss of their faith is germane to their disintegration as the century progressed. Italy the former center of Catholic Christendom is now depopulating fast as their national total population decreases about one third with each successive generation. Formerly fertile nations like Russia and Japan are not faring much better. The arrival of better and more effective contraception techniques in the mid 1970’s combined with the general abandonment of Christianity by western societies turned to be truly destructive.
Currently the population in underdeveloped countries is skyrocketing while the population in the richer developed countries approaches a declining point of no return. All things remaining equal, those who believe in the future of the West as the world’s dominant power are merely engaging in a hopeless exercise in wishful thinking.
Western immigration and assimilation
One could resume the decay of the Roman Empire this way: moral decay begat social and political decay, which in turn debilitated the military. In time Rome was not able to control its borders. For centuries barbarians infiltrated the Eastern Empire until one hard winter, the wide rivers that served as a protective mot in the east froze solid. Shortly after the proud capital of the world was sacked by barbarians for the first time in eight centuries.
Many compare the current situation of the United States and Europe to the years preceding the Roman collapse. The United States received several waves of immigrants: Irish, Germans, Scandinavians, Central European Jews and others that added to the original population of the former British colonies. The country was able to slowly assimilate those immigrants because of its unified education system, its wide fertile territory that could accommodate thousands of farmers, etc. Two world wars and the Great Depression slowed the immigration flow for almost half a century, fostering additionally a sense of patriotism and national unity. Radio and other forms of advanced communication gave the nation a true sense of a unified culture. By the early 1960’s the USA was a vast rich country, with a solidly united population that was overwhelmingly Christian, spoke one language, played the same sports, celebrated the same holidays, listened to the same music, watch the same movies, and were part of the same rich cultural landscape. Even while socially segregated, Americans of African descent formed fully Christianized, strong, productive communities, and were for the most part proud of their contribution to the American national project. In those days not many would have disputed the veracity of the American motto: “One People under God.” By the early 1960’s the United States of America were the bulwark of the West.
Radical ideas, a new kind of threat
With the fall of Cuba to Communism in the late 1950’s the United States and Europe began to feel in earnest the effects of the radical ideas growing since the days of the French Revolution. Those ideas affected both the right and the left of the political spectrum, and were instrumental in debilitating the influence of religion, and in particular, the strong adherence of the American people to Christianity. Radical movements began sprouting everywhere. The pill brought the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War brought the anti-war revolution, the Cold War brought the pacifist movement, Marxist intellectuals grabbed the control of the education system, and the courts of justice became the spearhead of a liberalization of American law. Natural changes in the evolution of the laws of the land, like the movement for civil rights, were practically turned into legal extortion rackets, promoting entitlements and privilege. The national moral consensus disintegrated as the Christian religion retreated more and more into the private realm, leaving the public square in control of the Liberal Progressives who quickly seized the moral initiative, and used it more and more to further mostly Marxist and other radical causes.
As the Christian religion retreated, all the other elements that held together the nation began to decay. The result was a progressive balkanization of the country now divided along cultural, racial, and political fault lines. All of the above continue to get worse and worse while millions of illegal immigrants arrive at a time when a country is so divided that has lost the capacity to assimilate newcomers in an orderly fashion.
Immigration from Latin America
Spanish speaking people from Mexico and the Caribbean basin have immigrated to the US steadily during the 20th century but lately a huge number, mostly from Mexico, have arrived in great numbers. It is estimated by some sources that about fifty million of them populate the Southwest from California to Texas. This massive movement is the equivalent of Mexico “growing” into the United States. Most of those immigrants are Catholics, retain the Spanish language as their first language, and assimilate into the old standard American culture at a slower pace than the Irish, Germans, and other immigrant groups of the last two centuries. Few of any American politicians and intellectuals have been able to grasp this new immigration phenomenon. Many feel more threatened by it than by the fundamentalist Muslim barbarity currently expanding from the Middle East. Some say that Syrian refugees entering Europe receive a warmer welcome than any Mexican entering the United States. Fortunately no Mexican groups have taken to blow up things with bombs, although there are maras and other gangs of youth involved in organized crime, it is also true that many Mexican Americans serve in the military, contribute with their honest work to the national economy, form good families, and are exemplary citizens. Yet the problem of the assimilation of such a vast number of people belonging to one single culture remains. In his book Mexifornia: a state of becoming, Victor Davis Hanson comments: “Massive illegal immigration from Mexico into California, coupled with a loss of confidence in the old melting pot model of transforming newcomers into Americans, is changing the very nature of state. Yet we Californians have been inadequate in meeting this challenge, both failing to control our borders with Mexico and to integrate the new alien population into our mainstream.”
Patrick Buchanan commented recently: “If there is a solution, this would be it: first put a security fence on the border because we are basically being invaded. They are not evil people but they are coming here because what is here is much better for them than what they had at home…” This is a very important point. Perhaps Buchanan never thought of it the way an immigrant does but it should be self evident to anyone that Dorothy was right in The Wizard of Oz when she said “There is no place like home.” No one leaves home to live in a different country unless there is a good reason.
My experience can be useful to understand that. My ancestors, and now myself, traversed long distances to live in places totally foreign to our own culture. From turn of the century Northern Italy to Argentina there is a long way, and so there is from the Argentina of the 1980’s to the northeastern United States. In barely three generations my ancestors and I have changed our language and our nationality three times, and yet the yearning for home remains in a strange way. A song from the never visited ancestral home stirs the soul even a century away; the familiar landscape and language of Buenos Aires fits like a glove after thirty years of absence; and yet I learned to love the ways of my adopted USA. The seed is there even if several lives cannot take in all the culture, all the secret bonds that tie the true native to the land, it is possible to be fully American by mere adoption. And yet … “there is no place like home.” People leave home only as a last resort, to go and seek a better future for their loved ones wherever that may be.
Many like Patrick Buchanan wonder why the United States has to import a million workers per year at a time when many more millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed. There is no logical explanation for that kind of socioeconomic suicide but there is a sort of logical explanation to why so many Mexicans (for example) risk all they have and leave home to live in the US: “because what is here is much better for them than what they had at home…” and that is more than mere money. What the Mexicans and other immigrants crave, besides a better standard of living, is order. Even after decades of unraveling, the American order is far superior to the chaotic mess than most countries south of the border have to offer. Do not take my words lightly, I am writing these words from a relatively nice apartment building in Buenos Aires. The door is a 200 lb. reinforced steel door, and a nice 9 mm automatic pistol rests on my desk ready to be used if needed. I never owned one of those in my thirty years of US residence from 1982 to 2012, and although I am “home” I miss my former home in Virginia, protected by a mere single-bolt lock and the assurance afforded by the 911 service. Remember that as the social conditions deteriorated in the US, the same thing happened all over the world. In a relative way the US has led the world down the path of social disorder but it started to fall from a position way above the rest.
Is there a solution?
If you are not depressed after reading all the way to this point, you are certainly a person with a strong mind. In reality there is no need to be depressed. I have good reason to believe that we are experiencing appears to be a problem while in reality it may be the result of the normal growing pains that the human family has to go through. I will tell you about that in the second part of this article.
 By coincidence his name was Neil, the same name of the first man to touch the shore of Ireland many centuries before.