LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Is America a "Sunset Society"?

Pondering those magnificent fireworks...

By Stu Nolan

In the wake of witnessing a magnificent local fireworks display on the evening of of July 4, my family returned to the house and caught the final televised moments of the Macy's sponsored fireworks display in New York City. Both the local display and the New York City spectacular struck me as much more impressive than the displays I remembered from my youth. Over the course of conversations in the ensuing days, I mentioned my perception that the country's celebration of its independence seems to be growing in direct proportion to the shrinking of our cause to celebrate. Is there any rational person in this land who can credibly argue that the country is on a more positive trajectory now than it was, for example, in the eighties?

Well, it seems I'm not the only one observing this inverse relationship. As reported by John Murdock over at First Things, Dr. Os Guinness has written of "sunset societies" such as this. In Dr. Guinness' A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, the author observes, as Murdock puts it, "without a virtuous people, American freedom is apt to morph into licentiousness, and that is no foundation on which to build a lasting republic."

Murdock nicely summarizes how Justice Scalia predicted the recent attacks on traditional marriage would result from the Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas just a decade earlier. He persuasively describes the rejection of Judge Robert Bork, may he rest in peace, and the approval of Anthony Kennedy's elevation to the Supreme Court in Judge Bork's stead, as a great turning point in the history of American constitutional jurisprudence.

Both the Murdock reflection and, I strongly suspect, the book by Dr. Guinness are worth a careful read.

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