May 18th, 2022


Lamentations for a Nation in Decline

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published Sept. 9, 2021

One of the fascinating and inspiring things about the Bible is the light it sheds on humanity; not just the humans living at the time biblical books were written, but all humans.

Consider the Hebrew Bible's Book of Lamentations. The Jewish prophet Jeremiah has traditionally been considered the author of Lamentations, a series of long-form poems expressing great grief after the Babylonian destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its Temple.

The author mourns Jerusalem, which was "once great among the nations" but "has now become a slave," plundered and mocked by those who once feared her: "Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease ... Her enemies looked at her and laughed at her destruction ... The enemy laid hands on all her treasures."

Israel was not only sacked — she was abandoned by her allies. "All who honored her despise her ... Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her."

Why had this happened? Because the Israelites abandoned the laws of God. "The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command." Worse, the people were led astray in this by their own leaders' weakness and venality: "The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin ... The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading."

Those leaders were also arrogant. "The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem. But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous."

These passages could well be describing the future of the United States — or the West, more broadly speaking. Look how many of our political, economic and cultural leaders have abandoned the principles that were the basis for the success of Western civilization, the founding of America, and our country's incredibly freedom and prosperity. Right and left, we see how America's and Europe's elites have embraced deceit and depravity, selfishness and greed.

The current crisis in Afghanistan is a perfect example. Whether by ineptitude or worse, President Joe Biden's execution of the U.S. military pullout resulted in the collapse of the Afghan government. The inscrutable decision to remove military before civilians left Americans and foreign allies scrambling to escape the country in the ensuing chaos. Some Americans remain stranded, and many Afghans who helped us have already been executed by the Taliban. Afghanistan is now firmly in the control of Islamic extremists, and in possession of billions of dollars in military weapons, ammunition, vehicles and aircraft that our government inexplicably left behind.

If our politicians have sold us out, some corporate leadership is just as bad. Podcaster and journalist Saagar Enjeti released a video last week explaining how Western companies have their intellectual property stolen by Chinese joint venture "partners" and then used in the communist government's massive surveillance state. U.S. investors have lost billions of dollars when Chinese companies enter the U.S. market and go public, only to have the companies' assets, and those dollars, seized by the Chinese government. As Enjeti put it, "China weaponizes Western greed to steal technology and resources only to further their own authoritarian ends."

Our sports and entertainment industries are just as weak. Professional athletes give penitent speeches in Mandarin if they dare to defend the freedom of the Taiwanese, or else they refuse to criticize China's treatment of Muslim Uyghurs. Hollywood is quick to edit their films to suit Chinese censors.

Hollywood should try censoring itself here. Singer Demi Lovato just posted an Instagram message to her followers, many of which are teens and pre-teens, telling them to, "Be a slut. Show your body. Get naked. Have all the safe, different, consensual sex you want. Be Kinky. Masturbate. Make/watch porn. Make money." Why anyone would listen to this deeply troubled young woman is a mystery. But many will. And she is not the only entertainment personality promoting promiscuity among other destructive behaviors.

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Where promiscuity goes, abortion follows. As America abandons G od, other idols have taken his place, and they exact cruel tithes. Abortion has become the sacrament of this warped and perverted "religion."

Salon is one of the first to say so expressly. They published an article last week titled, "Why Satanists may be the last, best hope to save abortion rights in Texas." According to spokesman Lucien Greaves, the Satanic Temple is claiming that abortion is a religious ritual for them, and demanding access to it under the First Amendment.

In another saner era, the mere idea of such a headline would have been unthinkable. But as the Bible also says, "There is nothing new under the sun." Canaanite followers of Moloch sacrificed their children to statues of him. In South America, the Aztecs and the Chimu sacrificed their children to placate pagan deities. We have dwarfed their numbers; more than 60 million babies have lost their lives to abortion since the practice was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Tens of millions of Americans still believe in integrity, loyalty, honesty, decency and responsibility. But the hour is late. If past is precedent, and it is, we are far less likely to turn this ship around, and far more likely to fall victim to our egos, our abandonment of principles and our greed.

At least, if we rely only on ourselves. The author of Lamentations called upon the people of Israel to repent of their misdeeds and turn to God in prayer: "(L)et us return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to G od in heaven, and say, 'we have sinned and rebelled ... '"

That was the only thing that would save them then. It may well be the only thing that will save us now.


Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.