This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published March 26, 2017 by The Washington Times.
It’s been a long while since I perused Time magazine, either online or in print.
Years ago, the weekly ceased being an interesting news magazine and evolved into a caricature of fashionable left-wing thought. It is no longer required reading.
However, Time managed to work its way back into national consciousness this week with its colorful cover asking, “Is Truth Dead?” The irony of Time’s editors raising that question probably never dawned on them.
The immediate object is to remind people of Time’s iconic April 8, 1966 cover from 51 years ago that asked “Is God Dead?” The secondary goal is to entice people into reading an attack on President Trump, plus the usual assortment of bizarre, culture-wrenching articles.
The Ideas section, for instance, offers a screed by Jacob Tobia titled, “Why All Bathrooms Should Be Gender Neutral.”
Sporting bright red lipstick, earrings and a five-o’clock shadow, the confused Mr. Tobia says he’s not comfortable in either men’s or women’s restrooms and wants to abolish them. His ultimate aim:
“Gender-neutral restrooms have the potential to fundamentally transform the way that we think about gender equality. Gender-segregated restrooms are one of the last absolute gender divides in our society, and they reinforce from a very early age the idea that women and men are fundamentally different.”
Actually, that’s been self-evident since the dawn of time and reinforced in the Bible, by all major religions and by the surging Hallmark Channel. For Time to devote space to what amounts to insanity shows why more and more people distrust the “legacy media.”
In the magazine’s original 1966 shock cover edition, religion editor John T. Elson’s lead article, “Toward a Hidden God,” pondered the nation’s plunge into cultural chaos and theocratic doubt.
He had a point. In the Sixties everything was up for grabs and any and all authority was considered illegitimate. Drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll trumped everything else, at least for affluent Baby Boomers.
Among other things, the riotous decade birthed today’s unhinged progressives and transformed a political party into a seething animal now wandering in the wilderness licking its wounds and vowing vengeance. The party’s house organs like Time brim with barely disguised hate for Mr. Trump. Okay, it’s not disguised at all.
Fifty-one years ago, Time was far more nuanced in its liberalism, the shocking cover declaration notwithstanding. Pro-God theologians were featured prominently in the article. On the other side, the “God Is Dead” crowd consisted of a few highly placed heretics. Mr. Elson noted that the latter were following in the footsteps of nihilist philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, who had pronounced the death of God in his book “The Gay Science” (or “The Joyful Wisdom”) in 1882.
The atheist philosopher eventually died at age 55 in an asylum in Switzerland, driven mad by what was thought to be syphilis for years but may in fact have been a brain tumor. In any event, Mr. Nietzsche went to his reward, a bonus of which was finding out most certainly whether his theory about God being dead was valid.
“Nietzsche’s thesis was that striving, self-centered man had killed God,” Mr. Elson wrote in 1966. “The current death-of-God group believes that God is indeed absolutely dead, but proposes to carry on and write a theology without theos, without God.”
Good luck. Writing a theology without God is like trying to hold the Indianapolis 500 without cars or a diving contest in a pool without water.
Last year, in a Time article “Is God Dead? At 50,” dated April 8, Lily Rothman opined that the rise of the questioning of God’s existence coincided with the end of World War II, when atrocities such as the Holocaust made people ponder why God permits evil.
She also cited “the rise of pluralism and diversity” in America and called the civil rights revolution “part of the death of God movement,” neglecting to mention that it was led by Christian ministers, the most famous being the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
In recent years, Time has had company in downplaying America’s religious heritage and publicizing surveys indicating that belief in God is waning.
Newsweek magazine ran a special report in April 2009 titled, “The End of Christian America.” With red letters on a black background like Time’s famous cover, the magazine proclaimed “The Decline and Fall of Christian America.”
The article by Jon Meacham dutifully quoted a prominent Southern Baptist leader who lamented the sharp rise in secularism and the dangers of a “post-Christian America.”
Mr. Meacham summarized by saying, “This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory.”
Maybe so, but times change. Newsweek ceased its print edition on Dec. 31, 2012.
Last November, an evangelical and Catholic tidal wave put Republicans in charge of the White House, both houses of Congress and a majority of statehouses across America.
No wonder the “legacy media” hope and pray for a rapid increase in unbelievers.