The Rebirth

By Nico Venter

There is an odious character in C.S. Lewis’s book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He combines all the worst characteristics of childhood and even the shadow of the darkness of adult pridefulness. He is so repulsive, it makes the book difficult to read. You have to slog through his diary entries and listen to his whiny drivel in order to get to the more rewarding parts of the novel. His name is Eustace Scrubb, and his personality is worse than his name.

At one part in the story the Dawn Treader, the adventure ship of Lucy, Edmond, and the crew lands on an island. Eustace, after antagonizing everyone, goes exploring and enters a dragon’s cave. Through some magic, he becomes a dragon. When he was still a boy, he put on a gold cuff, which was still there when he grew to be a dragon, and the cuff cut into his arm painfully. The pain and humiliation of his condition changes Eustace, and in his dragon form, he is much kinder and more helpful. When the ship is ready to leave, Eustace can’t go with them. Aslan appears and offers to help. He takes Eustace the dragon to a spring which soothes his aching leg, but Aslan insists that the cure lies in being “undressed.” Eustace claws at his dragon scales and makes some progress removing the dead scaly armor from his body. Eventually Eustace turns to Aslan and asks for his help. Aslan uses his sharp claws to do the job.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. . . .

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off — just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt — and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me — I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me . . . in new clothes.

Lewis, C.S. Voyage of the Dawn Treader

To the relief of the reader, Eustace is a changed person. By the end of the book, I even started getting used to his name. In the following books of the series, he is one of the heroes.

Yesterday I wrote about what I saw as the twin evils of our time; Trumpism and extreme Progressivism. I thought I did a great job of expressing my views of each and why I felt they were not the future of the America I envision; how each one appearing to be opposites, is really the same. I believed, and still do believe, that they pose a clear and present danger to the country I love. Looking back on my post after much reflection, my feelings toward the post are complicated. A large part of me wishes I could take it back.

The biggest danger of writing something is that you can’t take it back. It becomes its own reality once written, especially online. In choosing to express myself on here, I am taking a great risk. Everytime I tap on the publish button, I am sending off a piece of myself that I may greatly regret not just putting into words, but thinking at all. The Savior wisely taught, “It is not what goeth into a man that defileth him, but what cometh out.” Also, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

First thing I have done is examine my own motivations. I want to be clear that I had no intention of attacking any individual. Even Trump himself is not really a person to me, but a symbol of the ruin and corruption of the Republican Party. They have lusted after Trump for his wealth and power, they have adopted his cruelty and his craving for dominance. As a person, I can have compassion on him, but as a symbol and as a leader, my hatred is fixed and my opposition unwavering. Like Thomas Jefferson, I say, “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.” Any attempts to shame me for hating Trump are not effective because I know that my hatred is not of a person, but the evil I see in and around him. After sincere prayer and reflection, I can say that I have no malice toward Donald Trump the man or his supporters.

As far as Progressivism, I have never been a progressive. I have known very few progressives. As such I am unqualified to make a convincing case of the merits of the movement. So why did I speak out in my ignorance against it? Shouldn’t I avail myself of more information? In answer to that I would say, one does not need to be a geologist to see that a torrent of lava moving down a mountain is a threat to all living things in it’s path. I am not a geologist. I can’t tell you the chemical makeup of the lava, give you it’s classification, or make any predictions about the speed of it’s movement or the merits of the minerals that it brings with it that will enrich the soil in the future. I am the ignorant villager, running down the hill yelling, “Lava!! Run!!” I claim to be nothing more.

Layne and I were having an interesting discussion on Sunday on the way home from church. I was explaining some of the things I had been reading about the ideas of Carl Jung and the unconscious; how it is vast and unknowable. I compared it to outer space, theoretical physics, and the movement of galaxies across space and time.

He said, “Mom, it’s like it gets blacker and blacker. The more you know, you move out into it, and there is more you don’t know.” His skin was creased between his eyes like mine gets when my brain travels too far into the unknown.

I replied, “Yes, it does. It’s like Socrates said, ‘True wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.'”

When I started posting my naked self on Facebook last year, I realized that I would never post perfect things. There would be mistakes. I would hurt people. Like Eve, I saw the path before me as sin and death. Living my life out loud and speaking my mind, I was destined to fail, just as she knew she would as she took the bite out of that piece of forbidden fruit. She broke the taboo. She rejected the easy path. She ate, and she was right.

Sometimes wisdom is foolishness. Sometimes doing what’s right looks very wrong. Sometimes courage and faith look evil and weak. Sometimes you have to dive into the blackness of outer space not knowing anything, certain that with your mortal understanding you never will, but that it’s okay because it’s the right thing to do. You can’t say why or how, but you know it is.

Eustace Scrubb had to let the Savior tear the scaly skin off of his body to heal him. That’s what I feel he has done to me. I used to be a Republican conservative. I had built up layers of scars and scaly armor defending myself against the evil liberal socialist/communist ideology that was of the Devil. The liberals were wrong about me and my friends. We were not racists. We were not reactionary. We were the good guys fighting the corrupting influence of creeping socialism. I saw the racists among us, but I quickly turned my eyes away. That wasn’t me. Everyone has a few weird ideas, a few cookoos in the tribe. Overall, we were the good guys. We defended the constitution that was ordained of God. That was the truth, and we were the defenders of truth.

The illusions I clung to about the righteousness of my tribe were obliterated. The rise of Donald Trump has born in my soul a devastating and painful realization that I had been closing my eyes to the reality; the real danger was not from the Democrats, liberals, and progressives, it was from my own side. We were the ones the Russians targeted. We were the weak ones who had been imbibing deeply of the lies and propaganda of talk radio. We were the ones who turned a blind eye to those among us who trafficked in conspiracy theories. We were the ones that would destroy America.

And so I began the excruciating and painful journey of rebirth; of unlearning what I thought was true and seeing reality for the first time. First I stripped myself of the Republican identity. I stood outside the party in the cold and dark, waiting for the prodigals to come to themselves. I have clung to the identity of conservative in the hope that I could keep it pure and preserve it when it was ready to be embraced again by a repentant Republican Party. Now I am gradually seeing that the term conservative no longer means what it used to mean. The Trump supporters continually accuse me on Twitter, “You are no conservative!”

This morning it seemed to all come together for me. I am not a conservative. All movements are born of ideas. At first the ideas are alive and beneficial. They grow and live until, like a fingernail, they gradually become brittle and dead. We cling to them, wishing to return to the time when they were noble and new, refusing to see the dead shell of what they have become. Conservatism as it lived in me, is dead. As Americans we must see the awful truth before it is too late. Our nation is falling. The evidence is clear and the signs are lit up in neon letters. There is only one path forward. Whether we accept it now, and avoid our doom, or we will be forced to do it later. It is excruciatingly painful and awkwardly vulnerable. We must shed dead things, like Eustace did.

I refuse all labels. My wise husband observed last night as we discussed the dangers of labels and tribes, “After the Savior came, there were no more tribes among them.”

We are in an age of labels and divisions. I choose to shed them. I have no tribe. I am not an adherent of Mormonism, conservatism, or any other -ism. I am myself, a living, breathing, child of God. I have no tribe. I own my own complicity in the evils of my time. I accept responsibility for the choices I make including owning my own ignorance. I own the words that I wrote yesterday and the consequences that have come as a result.

I am weak, I am ignorant, I am fallen. There is no comforting “us” to which I can claim a shelter. I stand before you and my Savior naked. Judge me as you will, but His judgement only will I seek. Him only will I serve. Only He can look into my soul and judge the righteous judgement.

I pray to my Savior, show unto me my sin! Reveal unto me the darkness of my hidden places! Show me the folly of mine understanding! I prostrate myself before thee and plead with thee for mercy. Forgive me my weakness. Take from me the shame that tortures my mind. Show to me that there is hope for me and the ones that I love; that my weak words and efforts to express them are sufficient to do thy will. Fill my soul to overflowing with love and compassion for all and hatred for none, I pray to thee with all my soul and might. Amen.

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