Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” These words from W. B. Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming” were first published one hundred years ago, in a time not wholly dissimilar to ours. The 1918-1919 flu epidemic had ravaged much of Europe, tearing through communities and families without discrimination. (Yeats nearly lost his wife and unborn child to the flu.) The stench of World War I still hovered over the trenches and new conflicts simmered. People were unsure about the future, while political leaders grappled with a changing world. Yet through all these trials the faith remained at the center and held the Western world together, albeit weakly at times.
Today, however, there is a notable difference. While we do not face the miseries of World War I or the brewing storms that led to World War II, a spiritual shift in axis has allowed once firm foundations for our common life to fall apart.
The demonstrations we observe today against true injustices have in places been co-opted for an agenda that wants to shatter the center of Western culture. Rather than protesting peacefully against racial discrimination, some have turned their energy to destroying churches or symbols of Christianity. Others are redefining nature to accommodate moral license. Still others use executive power, legislatures, or courts to marginalize people of faith and the works of Christian service. An organized chaos has fractured our common identity and threatens to unravel the heritage we have been entrusted with to pass to our children.