Romanticism - EC334

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Romanticism
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 32
Length: 0:57:16
TapeCode: ec334
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 334, March the third, 1995.

Our subject this hour will be Romanticism. Now Romanticism can be approached from a variety of directions. In the field of literature Romanticism has been very, very influential and powerful. It began with men, to take the leaders of the movement, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, Keats and Shelley and it ended up in kind of a occultist, pornographic world view.

It can be taken also from the political standpoint. Romanticism and revolution have been closely linked, because Romanticism held that all you had to do was to sweep away the old past, bring in the new and the world would be born again and that only mass destruction was necessary in order to usher in Utopia. And not only in the French Revolution, but in the Russian Revolution and in other upheavals the belief has been all they have to do is to kill off those in power and everything is going to be sweetness and light.

We can approach Romanticism from a number of other ways as well. However, perhaps a simple approach and a simple definition is that Romanticism stressed as the key factor in man’s life not reason, but feeling, emotions. As a result, it believed that instead of thinking you had to feel. It led immediately to the avante garde artist who broke all the rules and stressed his passion, his feelings. It meant, as in Wordsworth, that he viewed the child, therefore, as most important because the child didn’t think and therefore didn’t cover up his innermost inspirational feelings with rationalizations so that a child with his pure feelings represented the greatest good under the sun and the noblest feeling. [00:03:22]

This kind of thinking has led in our day to the exaltation...[edit]

This kind of thinking has led in our day to the exaltation of the child, The Child Centered Society as one book described it and to believe that somehow the child has an instinctive wisdom.

Last week I saw a bumper sticker—I hope I do not see many more—that read simply, “Believe the children. Believe the children.” Why? Well, because the children don’t think. They haven't been corrupted yet by schools and by the church and by the parents. So believe the children. And, of course, today it is a very serious offense to not only spank a child, but to send the child to bed without supper or to speak harshly to a child and so on and on, because the child increasingly is so important. We have had for some time a child centered society. I hope we are moving out of it. I don’t know, but if pure unadulterated feelings, unmediated by any thinking or any experience or any religious faith are what must determine man and society, then you have the Romantic movement in its clearest expression.

I just cited one particular expression that I find particularly reprehensible, but there are many other expressions of it.

[Voice] Well, I think it would be fair to say that Romanticism is the genesis of the new age movement that we have around us today, because they operate totally on feeling. The ... you know, the Russians tried taking kids away from the parents and turning them into mindless robots and our ... the concept of our state is that the parents are simply ... they are simply caretakers. You know, the parents are to pay the bills and ... but not to provide any tutoring, no ... no moral direction, no education, no correcting their behavior. You are simply a care taker. And that if you exercise, if you... nowadays if you attempt to exercise any control they will put you in jail.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:06:30]

[Voice] I mean there are extreme cases like the one...[edit]

[Voice] I mean there are extreme cases like the one here in the last day or so where some woman who obviously had lost it, you know, tortured her kids by putting their feet in the hot water in a bathtub, but that is at one end of the spectrum. But on the other end of the spectrum if a mother spanks her kid in the store because he is ... tries to steal a candy bar or is making a disturbing the... the rest of the shoppers in the store, she can be put in jail for that and is.

[Rushdoony] It is.

[Voice] Apparently to that sort of thing.

[Rushdoony] More than once, several times in the past couple of years I have been on a plane and a woman across the aisle has a screaming child and she is helpless. She dare not do anything because she could be arrested when the plane lands.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And I ... on a couple of occasions had to smile at the mother to reassure her because she was profoundly embarrassed, but I understood. I... I wasn’t happy about the child screaming, of course, but I didn’t want her to feel as guilty as she obviously felt. And she just made a gesture to indicate she was helpless. She did not dare do anything.

[Voice] Well how did...

[Rushdoony] And that is our situation.

[Voice] How did we get to that position? I mean, this has happened very quickly. You know, it has happened within my lifetime. And that is pretty quick.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Well, we need to recognize how wide ranging was this problem of Romanticism which affected music and architecture and literature, painting, criticism, historiography, all those things. Rush mentioned some of the marks of Romanticism. Return to nature, Pantheism, Subjectivism, the exaltation of the individual, the self, obsession with the hero or the exceptional figure, the deprecation of reason, the exaltation of emotion. Rush mentioned, of course, the worship of the child. The artist as a creator. In the classical period and earlier for the most part the painters and other artists wanted to depict nature and reality as it was, but the Romantics believed that out of his own bosom that the artist could create an {?} and then the imagination is the gateway to the spiritual world and as Satanism and the bizarre, Mary Shelley, of course, in Frankenstein and branched over to Dracula and all that sort of thing, William Blake and all that. [00:09:19]

You know, I was thinking about what we are talking...[edit]

You know, I was thinking about what we are talking about is the practical effect of Romanticism in the modern culture. I want to read just a couple of sentences from a powerful book Robert Pattison’s The Triumph of Vulgarity: Rock Music and the Mirror of Romanticism. He says, “Romanticism is a living popular creed, not a superannuated artistic movement. This creed, originally the province of an educated minority is by now the mutation (I am sorry) is now by mutation the ideological currency of the western masses.”

We are so engulfed in Romanticism today that we don’t understand the whole idea of the worship of feeling and then Star Wars. Don’t think, Luke, you know, trust the force. Trust your feelings. I am... this is coming from my heart and not my head. This has become just so prominent, especially in our music as Pattison has pointed... pointed out. It is just almost utterly feeling oriented and almost all of life is that way. And I don't think we should escape tonight without talking about the extent to which Romanticism has emasculated the church.

[Rushdoony] Yes. But to go back to the children and young people.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] One of the things I see as I travel very commonly among boys from very fine families, Christian families wearing caps with the visor turned to the back to give no shade or haircuts with an odd type of cut. Where do these come from? Why right out of this city gangs.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] And they are imitated by children from good families because they represent wildness.

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] That is coming from MTV. That is how the message is conveyed...

[Rushdoony] Yes, that is what it is.

[Voice] ...is MTV. The styles, the dress styles of the urban inner city ghetto youth, the language, the music, the rap music, the vulgarity, that is how it is conveyed. That is the conduit by which the... the all of these things from inner city are transmitted out to the youth through the rest of the country. It is... it is their pipeline. It is... it is their bulletin board system. [00:12:00]

[Voice] One reason for those rise of sexual immorality...[edit]

[Voice] One reason for those rise of sexual immorality and the promiscuity of the 60s was this very romantic idea. Just trust your feelings. Don’t trust your reason. One of the chief ideas of Romanticism is let’s break out of traditional rules and strictures and so you are sort of your own boss, your own god.

[Voice] Go with the flow if it feels good, do it.

[Voice] That is.... that is one maxim of Romanticism. If it feels good, do it.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And I... I can hardly over emphasize the extent to which Romanticism has so engulfed modern society.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] We can mention about the Church. So much theology today is based on the emotions following Romanticism. It is, you know...what... how Jesus makes me feel and how this part of Scripture is so precious to me.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And or a Bible study will be based upon what does this Scripture say to you?

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] And it is all subjective. It is all personal. It is all a consumer religion.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] That served you and if you talk of theology, if you talk about biblical mandates, then you are accused of having this head knowledge and no feeling and no heart in your religion.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] And ... and it is... it is really repulsive that ... how contemptuous so much of the modern Church has become of... of theology.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ... of... of Scripture. It is all subjective personal religion.

[Voice] Well, we have degenerated into show time. I mean...

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] ... they are entertainment centers.

[Voice] A good example of how that is sometimes this subjectivism sometimes comes out. I ... in a Bible study... I was in a Bible study once where the leader would read what... here is what my Bible says. Now how many different translations do we have here? How many different versions or paraphrases? And everybody would read theirs. And some people would say, “Well, I like that one.”

[Voice] Yeah, smorgasbord or...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And that is ... that is one of the problems with having a church with very...

[multiple voices]

[Voice] I am surprised....

[Voice] There is no absolute. This one seems to say this and this one seems to say that. I prefer this one.

[Voice] I am surprised they don’t form them up into groups depending on which translation they brought with them.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] Mark, you mentioned these people who talk about this or that precious Scripture reading. And I have heard that type of reference on radio programs and I have wondered. Don’t they realize that maybe God is going to say more to them in what is not precious to them? [00:15:02]

[Voice] Yeah. Well, people don't want any bad news, you know? Let’s face it.

[Voice] You might just find something you have been doing something wrong.

[Rushdoony] It is like the man who was helpful in getting a pastor kicked out of his pulpit on the grounds that he had preached a sermon on Leviticus 18, the chronicle of sexual sins of which this man was guilty and he knew the pastor would never violate the knowledge he had through bringing this man to the point of confession. And he said, “It is a terrible thing when you can’t come to church without hearing something that is anything good and comforting. We come to the house of God to be comforted,” and so on and on.

Well, if ever a man needed anything but comforting, it was that man.

[Voice] That’s right.

[Voice] Romanticism in the Church is, of course, largely pervasive in the modern charismatic movement, though elsewhere also I think of two prominent examples. One is the so-called prophetic movement where individual leaders sort of get immediate revelations from God. That is right in line with Romantic ideal of creation and the idea of sense experience and their epistemology, the immediate impressions on the soul and truth being impressed on me.

But also this nonsensical laughing revival which is sweeping the country.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] The Toronto blessing. This was only the most extreme or one of the most extreme examples of Romanticism and the worship of feeling.

[Rushdoony] Well, not too many years ago a prominent person in the Pentecostal movement who was very successful, became so confirmed in feelings his feelings to be from God that he finally began to speak as the voice of Christ. And, of course, that was enough to expose him and happily the roof fell in on him. But that kind of thing does go on.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And I know of a couple of instances today where people by trusting their feelings have begun to believe that they have revelations that put them on a level with Christ.

[Voice] Yes, you know, somebody alluded to this. Rush, Mark, it may have been you. I can’t remember. But so frequently do we hear and not even among liberal churches, but especially among evangelicals this idea that, well, the problem with you Chalcedon people and others that stand for truth with cognitive content as you have, head religion.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And we need today heart religion. Well, that is just straight out of the Romantic play book.

[Rushdoony] And originally out of Greek pagan thinking.

[Voice] Yes, exactly. And of course when they say heart they don’t understand what the Bible means by that term which is the whole of the immaterial man, the ... the essence or the pith of man. They don’t understand that. [00:18:28]

And, thus, they go away from the truth...[edit]

And, thus, they go away from the truth. For them heart is just their emotions.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And if we cry, you know, that somehow validates what happens. And uniformly they tend to despise the creeds and confessions.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ...of the church and often go into heresy. I am thinking of one man right now that can wax eloquent about getting revelations from God and yet is not even trinitarian. He is a Modalist. It is so easy to do that when you rely on your feelings or emotions or intuitions. But this really is a description of the evangelical church today.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] A good example of this subjective attitude of the emotions and how the... Christianity should... should feed our... our inner needs and our feelings is this holy laughter movement.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] And people how... how that appeals to so many people.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] The whole concept that that I should go to church to learn how to laugh, to have a good time.

[Voice] It is sweeping the ... sweeping the country and it is just inconceivable, but the groundwork is laid in this Romantic you of not only society, but also the church. It must be resisted at all costs.

[Voice] When you think about it, it really is kind of an off shot of pagan faith healing.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Because scientists supposedly say that laughter is good for you. It generates something that you need.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And... but you can do the same thing with nitrous oxide while you are driving along in your car.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] I didn’t fully understand how charismatics become so involved in believing in this faith healing, being slain in the Spirit and so forth till we were at the state fair a year or two ago and as part of the mass entertainment there in the... they had a pavilion with a stage. They had various entertainers, jugglers. Well, one of the entertainers was a hypnotist. And he would ask for about 20 or 25 volunteers from the audience. And these were all people who wanted to go up. Some of who had seen his previous show and they... they were... they showed up early because they wanted to go up on stage. They wanted to be hypnotized.

And so what did he do? He said something and he touched them and if they did what he said, fell asleep or, you know, just lost control and sank down to the ground, he went down the line. And the ones who were the most susceptible he said, “I would like the rest of you to go back and be audience. Thank you very much,” as the ones who wanted to be hypnotized and were so susceptible of it. Sure. All he had to do was touch them and, boy, did he have control over them, because they wanted, they wanted to believe in what he was going to do. And so he had power over them. [00:21:08]

[Voice] Which indicates that probably in the church...[edit]

[Voice] Which indicates that probably in the church, too, that there is an element of self deception.

[Voice] Oh, very much so.

[Voice] Self deception, people want to be deceived.

[Rushdoony] Well, what has happened in the churches is that as a result of Romanticism the church instead of proclaiming the Word of God to the people proclaims whatever in the Word the people would like and with changes and emphases to please the people. So we do not have worshiping churches. We have consumer churches.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] The people go there as consumers. And they shop around.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] They go in as shoppers and if the pastor does not please them and his preaching does not suit them, they go where they can get what they want.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And the consumer church is the curse of the world today.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] It has completely abandoned Christianity for a romantic version of Christianity.

[Voice] Yes and their attitude is: What can this church do for me?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Not how can I hear the Word of God and obey the Word of God and train my family in a godly way and exercise godly dominion. And in some churches I am thinking of another church right now, a rather large evangelical church. In fact there is a whole new vocabulary that has been developed. Preaching to meet felt needs, which means that basically what the worshippers want, what the Christians want is what we will preach on, not the idea of, as the reformers would do, just go through the Word of God and expound the Word of God week after week after week. We have to meet felt needs and they talk about seeker sensitive churches. You know, it almost sounds like a missile or something that they are talking about.

I am telling you, a whole new psychological vocabulary to deal with this Romantic impulse and this is the final utter democratization of the Church.

[Rushdoony] And so many young men go into the ministry and they think they are going to sever God and they find very quickly that the people will not tolerate it. They want their needs met.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] A very fine pastor I know had to leave a church because they were angry with him. He was preaching the Word of God faithfully and what they wanted was, oh, we are interested in having the needs of the retired people, the young couples, college age, and so on, all these needs had to be met.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] Is this... is this a new phenomenon in religion?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Something that has happened within the past century?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Yes. [00:24:02]

[Rushdoony] It began with the Enlightenment in the...[edit]

[Rushdoony] It began with the Enlightenment in the last century and a half it has gained momentum and you have churches now that self consciously not only work to please the people, but boast of it.

[Voice] Yes. I think I mentioned on an earlier Easy Chair that I know of a church in which periodically this is hard to believe, but this is true. Little slips of paper are handed out to the congregation after the sermon and the minster is graded on the sermon. And, of course, if he doesn’t meet up to expectations there are a number of ministers in the church, it is a large church. He has to sort of revise his message in terms of what the congregation likes.

I can’t think of any more abominable idea of ... of Romanticism and democracy in the church than that.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

It is no wonder, is it, the young men who go into the ministry very quickly have a very real crisis. They are not fully aware of what is happening, but this is not what they felt called to do.

[Voice] This is a technique that people who... professionals who conduct seminars, you know, have people grade them.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] So that they can find out... but it is not a... it is not a fit thing for a church. I think in their zeal to please the audience, to be consumer oriented as Rush has pointed out, that they borrowed a lot of these techniques that they have seen used by business organizations and used in ... in modern day seminars and teaching techniques.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] And tried to transfer it to the church where it has no valid place.

[Voice] Yes. And we should mention that this is almost completely unprecedented in the history of the Church. There were some mystical anabaptistic radical reformation elements that bore some resemblance to this, but on the whole whether in Eastern Orthodoxy, whether in Romanism or Protestantism, all of those groups have their defects and problems, but at least in all of them, historically, until the modern era, there was a recognition that truth is objective and the responsibility of the minister, priest, whoever may be, is to declare the truth. But that has largely been eroded in the last 50 years or so under the Romantic impulse.

[Rushdoony] Well, this is one reason why the reformed faith has waned.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... with the rise of Romanticism.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And what must be done is to build a fresh kind of church with a different kind of membership.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] One that recognizes the authority of the Word of God and is ready to be changed rather than to try to make the church conform to its romantic needs.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] And I want to encourage as a former pastor myself, any pastors listening to these tapes. Don’t be afraid. Speak lovingly, but don't be afraid to speak the truth. Don’t be afraid to affirm the good old doctrines of the reformed faith which is nothing more, as Warfield said, of Christianity come into its own to declare the truth and not worry about the needs of the congregation. I mean, the congregation needs the declaration of the Word of God.

[Voice] It is the once.

[Voice] Well... [00:27:54]

[Rushdoony] We see this in every sphere...[edit]

[Rushdoony] We see this in every sphere. The superficial aspects are given priority.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] In making judgments. It has been observed and it is worth repeating that if Abraham Lincoln were living today he couldn’t be elected a dog catcher.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] First, he had a high pitched voice. And they would have laughed him off the stage in any district of the United States, because it was not a voice that was the right kind of voice to come out of big giant of a man. Second, he was a sloppy person. He really was. His wife had a continual problem with him trying to keep him neat and clean.

One point after another Lincoln didn’t have what it takes to be a 20th century politician. But when you read him, whether you agree with this speeches or not you have to say, “This was on a higher level intellectually than anything we have today.”

[Voice] Yes. So right.

[Rushdoony] And he was campaigning in Illinois in what was almost frontier territory so that you have to say those... the Illinois frontiersmen had a high level of intellectual aptitude.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Well, no politician has the intellectual caliber or content of Lincoln and the pulpit today is similarly declined from the pulpit of that day. [00:29:57]

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] I would like to jump over to another area, literature. James Joyce is very, very important in the literature of this century. He is the epitome of the Romantic, because his writing is stream of consciousness writing. It is not organized. It doesn't deal with a narrative. It puts you in the mind of the people in his novel, for example, Ulysses, what they are thinking. And it will be pornographic. It will be scatological. It supposedly represents the thought of these protagonists, whatever they are doing, whether they are sitting on the pot or they are lusting after somebody or meditating about something. The idea is let it all hang out.

[Voice] Isn't that...

[Rushdoony] This...

[Voice] Freudian self analysis disguised as literature?

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, even Nora, Joyce’s wife, who is not a particularly moral person once said of her husband, “Sure the man is a genius, but it is a dirty mind he has.” And she should have know. Let it all hang out. That was the premise and ever since then, literature has followed that course.

And today whether it is on television for popular consumption or in the movies or in literature, vulgarity, to refer to the book you have cited, Andrew, is exalted.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] It is regarded as somehow the higher truth.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] The real reality and not the intellectual reality or the religious reality.

So we live in an era of unabated reality. Now I...

[Voice] I was...

[Rushdoony] {?}

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] In high school we were fortunate or we were assigned James Joyce to read and we had to read comments about what we thought about it and I thought it was garbage. And the teacher was just horrified.

[Voice] It is interesting. I have read some of his letters, collected letters to his wife and had to throw them down in disgust. They were just filled with perversion, sadomasochism and all sorts of other things like that. But you are right that it has greatly influenced modern culture. [00:33:04]

There is also an infatuation and this is truly romantic...[edit]

There is also an infatuation and this is truly romantic with the bizarre. What to push the limits and to shock people.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And to ... to get involved in such new perversions or such new tortures or such new techniques of destruction that we can shock people. This is also the romantic ideal.

[Voice] But Henry Millers and.

[Voice] When...

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] The Faulkners and the... all the rest of these....

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] ...spawned a whole generation of...

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] When James Joyce’s Ulysses was tried in court here in the United States the judge’s decision was an interesting one, because he ruled that it did not stimulate lust. It rather had an emetic reaction. You wanted to throw up.

[Voice] Find more judges...

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] That could make that clearly.

[Rushdoony] But they probably put his decision in as the foreword to the book.

[Voice] Well, yes and you can get it today. That is right.

[Voice] Yeah. Badge of courage.

[Voice] Maybe we can shift gears and talk about the theme of the book that I cited and that is Romanticism in music. Of course, there were the pre Romantics like Beethoven and Shubert and Franz Liszt and Tchaikovsky, but today it has degenerated to such an extent that music is almost nothing but pure feeling and pure emotion. And, of course, good music always does have a subordinate element to feeling and there is nothing wrong with that, but we are talking now about the apotheosis of feeling and music has today just degenerated back essentially to its... we call it jungle music and that is really the truth.

You know, it is interesting what Pattison points out in the book The Triumph of Vulgarity is he cites statements by rock and roll musicians, writers and so forth that this is a religious experience. They are declaring a religion. This really is their religion, their faith that they are creators as God is and they are breaking out of all bounds and, thus, demonstrating that they are the creators.

[Rushdoony] Well, because those of my generation, and I will shortly be 79, have a more disciplined background, it is totally impossible for us to listen to rock and roll. We simply are not capable of reacting mindlessly as you have to.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] But to the generation schooled in the public schools, rock and roll has an intense and absorbing character to it.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] The beat.

[Voice] Yes, it has a hypnotic effect.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:36:05]

[Voice] And Pattison was citing rock and rollers who...[edit]

[Voice] And Pattison was citing rock and rollers who were claiming that we all recognize that this is animalistic music. It emphasizes the base sense that instincts in man. And they are glorying in that. They are not complaining about it. They are glorying in that and they are conceding that very point.

And I think that is another example of the success of Romanticism in modern culture.

[Voice] Well, modern music today is... it is very consumer oriented because it is very... and it is very geared towards a particular generation.

[Voice] Yes, that is right.

[Voice] So there is a generation of the 50s when rock and roll developed and music was very different in the early 60s and the late 60s and the 70s and 80s and it has changed quite a bit since then and now you have the... the... the rap and the other MTV the video stuff. And music changes so much because a new generation wants something different and the old stuff becomes outdated.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] Or passé and it is only around long enough till while there are still people who remember it as what they would listen to and became accustomed to and then it is going to be completely drawn out.

[multiple voices]

[Rushdoony] Well, television tells us a great deal about the changes that have taken place. Not too many years ago the most popular and the all time most popular television program according to many of the authorities in the field was Dragnet. Now Dragnet was a police show dealing with actual cases. It rarely showed a gun pulled or used. No wild chases, just solid detective work. And at the end it showed the arrest and the conviction of the person. And that was intensely popular with the generation that now is over the hill.

But what happened was that as the new generation grew up and they were more governed by this Romantic mindless emotional reaction, television recognized that they because they reacted more emotionally were more susceptible to advertising.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] So that more and more of the shows were geared to these younger people, even though they might not draw as big an audience as the traditional kind of television show would, but they would spend more money and the advertisers would be more ready to advertise.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Now one show that suffered because of it, not one that particularly liked or found very interested was ... what was his name. The champagne music?

[Voice] Lawrence Welk.

[Rushdoony] Lawrence Welk, yes. [00:39:15]

Lawrence Welk drew the older audiences...[edit]

Lawrence Welk drew the older audiences. Well, the older audiences didn’t spend money like the others and the kind of commercials you got were for Geritol and the like. They dropped Lawrence Welk and he had to go independent in order to get on TV. And they went for things that did not draw as many people as Lawrence Welk. They drew young people, but they drew more advertising.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] Well, it is interesting what public television does, you know, because of all the talk about cutting public television funds. There has been some dramatic changes in programming. They have got suddenly Lawrence Welk is on channel six and so that they can block the criticism of not serving the older members of society.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Then to blunt the criticism that they are not providing equal time for conservatives, why they put William F. Buckley on at about two o'clock in the morning when nobody is watching.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Rush, you were talking earlier about Abraham Lincoln. I want to mention Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He demonstrates a great transformation in modern society from a word oriented or a verbal oriented to a visual oriented culture.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] He gives a number of examples and one of them is Lincoln and Lincoln Douglass debates. Compare the transcripts.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ... of the Lincoln Douglas debates to these insubstantial little debate that we have today. There is just absolutely no comparison.

[Voice] Well, the... those men had credibility. I mean, these men today have zero credibility.

[Voice] Right. Well, the important thing for them. They can be successful if they set forth a good image. The important thing is not the substance. It is the projected image.

[Voice] I mean today nobody cares what these people say because they know it is a lie. They know that it is subject to reinterpretation and total 180 degree about face within minutes if not hours.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] A hundred years ago in the 1890s the average American read three to four hours a say. In the 1990s the average American watches television three to four hours a day and the difference is dramatic in the culture it produces.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] At that time also a great deal of reading aloud was done in the family.

[Voice] Well, nowadays marketing organizations don’t even send you written literature, printed literature anymore.

[Voice] Right.

[Voice] They send you a video tape if they wan to sell you something...

[Voice] Right.

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] ... because...

[Voice] That is exactly right.

[Voice] ... they figure that the... apparently they are convinced that the ... the literacy level is so low that if they are going to convey anything to people it has got to be done visually. [00:42:13]

[Rushdoony] Yeah, well that is interesting because...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yeah, well that is interesting because that has been a problem to me. Douglas, I belong to he depression generation. You don’t throw things away lightly. And these video tapes come. I don't want to listen to them. I don’t. I put them there and they stay there and they stay there a long, long time until finally for lack of space I figure, well, they will have to go into the...

[Voice] By now the information is obsolete anyway, so you let yourself off the hook.

[Voice] And even when literature comes through, the promotional literature, it is largely just colors, you know, a few colors and couple of words here. It is basically the same exact...

I was thinking, too, about the effect of Romanticism in education. We think immediately about this Goals 2000 which wants to subordinate the hard cognitive subjects to Relationonalism and feeling and, quote, socialistic values they say. Well, that is another aspect of Romanticism in modern culture that these congnitives, like hard math subjects or language, literature, history. I mean, genuine American or world history, these things tend to be subordinated to sort of good feelings, relationships, getting along with one another in school. That, too, is a ... is an aspect of Romanticism.

[Rushdoony] I have sitting right out in plain sight right now a video sent by someone who is a Christian of sorts and a conservative of sorts. And I don’t know what to do with it. I am never going to listen to it. I don’t think much of the man. And it pains me to throw it away. Eventually I will, but...

[Voice] Well, you know you can...

[Voice] You can tape over it.

[Voice] You can... yeah, you can use it, you know, record over the top of it.

[Rushdoony] Well... I don’t do any recording.

Well, Romanticism is very much with us. And one of the manifestations that we have only barely referred to is Occultism and off beat religions.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And the Romantic movement created an interest in eastern religions and in spiritualism and a great many other phenomena. There is an actress. What is her name?

[Voice] Shirley McLain?

[Rushdoony] What?

[Voice] Shirley McLain.

[Rushdoony] Shirley McLain. Now she represents very clearly this romantic mood and temperament because she is constantly pursuing visionary experiences and ready to believe almost anything that anybody passes on to her.

[Voice] Yes. [00:45:21]

[Rushdoony] And the number of important people who...[edit]

[Rushdoony] And the number of important people who are involved in this kind of thing is legion. We know that not too many years ago a president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, was involved in this and there have been hints that many another person in the White House has been involved in Occultism, but they have not publicized it.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Well, Romanticism does not believe in verification, in proof, in evidence. Such ideas are too rationalistic. They want the immediate, the unadulterated experience. So they are ready to believe that if they had a very vivid dream or a very vivid reaction, God or the spirits have spoken to them or that it represents an experience from a previous reincarnation. The gullibility of people who are in important positions to this sort of thing is staggering.

[Voice] Well, the thing I object to is that they pay for it with my money.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Yes.

So Romanticism is something we encounter everywhere.

[Voice] And it has been linked to the philosophical idea of Existentialism according to which the important thing is the moment, this particular point in time, what I feel at this moment. I noted, in fact, perhaps the most prominent English scholar in the United States was queried recently about his beliefs and he said, “Oh, my beliefs may be different... my basic beliefs might be different two hours from now, completely different.”

[Voice] So he just...

[Voice] ...just what I believe right now is important. Rush, that is a frightening statement.

[Voice] Sounds like a description of Bill Clinton.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] That is true.

[Voice] They... they have been after him since he first ran for the office trying to find out what his, quote, core beliefs are. And he has a different set of core beliefs...

[Voice] ...core believes that he doesn't act...

[Voice] ...from moment to moment.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Well, the Reader’s Digest, I believe, currently has an article about Clinton in which they call him a yo-yo because his ideas change so frequently. But what the writer of the article—and it is a very good article—misses is that this doesn’t bother tens of millions of people because if you are a good Existentialist—and most of the people without knowing the meaning of the word are today Existentialists—you are not bound by what you said two days ago. You are governed only by your feelings of the moment and the truth of the moment. So Clinton is very much an Existentialist. He manifests this readiness to change and to believe that whatever he says at the moment is the truth for the moment and that is Existentialism. [00:48:49]

[Voice] I don’t know how you can practice such self...[edit]

[Voice] I don’t know how you can practice such self delusion without going crazy.

[multiple voices]

How can you maintain a grip on reality if you delude yourself that...

[Rushdoony] There is no reality other than yourself if you re an Existentialist.

[Voice] It is self induced insanity.

[Rushdoony] Yes, it is.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] It is.

[Voice] Well, why don’t we talk about how to combat this romantic element in the Church and in society and so forth? I think we should say that in the Church we need to get back to the idea of sound expository preaching, the authority of the Word of God, all of the Word of God, Old and New Testaments, subordinate authority of the creeds and confessions of the Church, the orthodox creeds and confessions of the Church. I think that is a good starting place of the Church, but, Rush, go ahead.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And I feel more than ever in this age because the kind of preaching that people like is so thin. Ministers should give themselves to a systematic exposition of Scripture.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Maybe a book beginning in the New Testament with Matthew straight through week after week. In the evening maybe start with Genesis so that they get a systematic presentation of the Word of God. I think they need to sit down with the Church officers and explain why this is necessary.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] The number of church members who cannot tell you the... what it is they believe more than vaguely that they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior is legion. And these are from churches that are militant Arminian churches and militant reformed churches. But it is mindless at the same time.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] There is no systematic knowledge of Scripture.

[Voice] That is right.

One of the great reformed preachers of this generation of late Martyn Lloyd-Jones would spend as long as perhaps 10 years on one book of the Bible. And while some may consider that excessive, that is certainly preferable to this sort of topical hit and miss preaching that is so common of today in evangelical churches. [00:51:10]

The whole counsel of God is not preached...[edit]

The whole counsel of God is not preached...

[Rushdoony] No.

[Voice] ... when all of the Word of God is not preached.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Voice] And that makes for a defective congregation. It is like not getting a full diet.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] You tend to be deficient in one particular area or several particular areas and that is why one reason the church is so deficient. And much of it, of course, is not sound preaching from the Old Testament or if it is Old Testament preaching it is only very typological or allegorical or something like that.

[Voice] The way it is going, a lot of these churches could shut down and just get a 900 number, you know.

[Voice] That is true.

[Voice] You would call in on Sunday morning.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And yet you message for the day.

[Voice] It is just as much. That is right.

[Rushdoony] Get it in condensed form.

[Voice] Right.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] In wider culture in fighting Romanticism I think, Rush, you were talking about politics. I think we need fewer politicians and more statesmen, Christian statesmen who will stand up, govern by principle, by the Word of God, the law of God and declare the truth. And I think immediately of men like Howard Philips and there are more and more that are coming up through the ranks and I have met some of them and they are good men and we need to ... need to stress that idea.

[Voice] I get the feeling that there are millions of what I would call religious vagabonds out there who just bounce around from one place to the next and nothing sounds good to them or makes any sense to them because that there is no cohesiveness, no continuity.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] It is really... it is really the... the modern churches impeding, stretching out the period of time to before we can achieve a revival.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Some years ago I read through the many volumes of Richardson’s Presidential Papers to I believe ... I believe through Wilson. I didn’t read everything. If it were an appropriations measure of his veto of it or something that was technical, I just glanced at it and skipped over it. But I read them. And I also read the papers of Fisher Ames who was in the first U S Congress. And I read most of the collected papers of Abraham Lincoln and what was very clear was that we have had a steady downward trend in the content of presidential papers. It has gotten thinner and thinner because the caliber of the people has become thinner and thinner. It has reached a point where it is depressing because there is an insufficient grasp of issues.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] I don’t believe we are going to get back to better content without Christian renewal and I think it is coming. The Christian and home school movement are creating better audiences, better voters and in another 20 years or so we will see the impact of Christian schools and home schools. [00:54:49]

At the same time we are seeing a return to an awareness...[edit]

At the same time we are seeing a return to an awareness that past Christians who have got to apply the faith.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] So it is both a ... a sense of responsibility, plus better equipment. I think what we represent in Chalcedon and the Christian Reconstruction movement is an aspect of this great change that is beginning to take place.

Our time is almost over. Is there a last statement each of you would like to make?

[Voice] I would say that to all those who are listening, acquaint yourselves with the history of Romanticism and I can assure you that you have been influenced by it more than you think. It should be resisted. It is anti Christian to the core. And it is utterly destructive of the Church, family and society. Educate yourself about this pernicious movement.

[Voice] I think at the center of all sin is ... I...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And... and any philosophy, any perspective that ... that begins with ourselves is inherently flawed. And we need to see that.

[Rushdoony] That is a very important point, Mark, because with Romanticism people no longer said what Thomas Aquinas or Calvin or Luther said, but I think....

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] I feel.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And that became determinative. They no longer felt that they needed authority or superior knowledge to theirs. Their opinion, even if they knew nothing on a subject, became all important.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] But I believe that is changing by the grace of God.

Well, thank you all for listening and God bless you.