Issues analysis
Calvin vs. Hobbes: Billy Graham's final 'decision'?

September 21, 2005
Curtis Dahlgren
RenewAmerica analyst

"The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 'that God governs in the affairs of men.'" --Benjamin Franklin

"May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." --Peter Marshall, Jr.

WE HAVE BIG TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY. Can't we put aside one-upmanship for even one day? The President's "Day of Prayer and Remembrance" passed without any notice in the mainstream press that I was able to find--and the partisanship of the 4th Estate-5th Column never abated for one moment. The news media methodology is akin to a blindfolded kid approaching a piñata--JUST FLAILING AWAY! They are obsessed with the "socio-economic" implications of Hurricane Katrina, but the spiritual implications are a strictly "verboten" topic!

At the other end of the spectrum, Rush Limbaugh today called himself "Pollyanna" Rush and "explained" (i.e., "justified") his eternal optimism. To paraphrase Pollyanna Rush, "Okay, so you've proven you can hang on to your pessimism--now what? What good is it doing?"

Point taken, but there are TWO kinds of pessimism! The media Left vividly typifies the kind that just wants to be proven "right" in the end, even if they have to take the whole country down with them. The other kind is fundamental realism that hopes to be proven wrong when the warnings are taken seriously (the President's "Day of Prayer" wasn't) and when course corrections are made. Pessimistic conservatives are like the dire one in a good cop/bad cop scene in a movie.

Pessimism doesn't "sell" anything however, given human nature. A bearded man in a black robe was pacing back and forth on a city street corner with a sign that read: "The end is near." A theologian in a black robe walked up to him and says, "Don't you know that religion is more 'upbeat' these days?"

The bearded man says, "Oh THANK YOU, sir!" and makes a new sign that says, "The End is Near, Dammit!"--with special emphasis on the letters E, N, and D.

Make no mistake: what people think other people want to hear plays a large role in their so-called "core beliefs" these days. When they comment or vote, they mainly want to be proven on the side that was "right" or "wins." My father raised sheep, so I'm well familiarized with the concept.

My former home town once held a "public hearing" during its second attempt to pass a $26 million dollar school building referendum--over $50 million with interest--in a town of 10,000 people, and the speakers--well-scripted by professional public relations experts--said that taxes would not have to be raised (or at least only a "tiny" bit).

After the meeting, my brother asked some guys what they thought. They said they were now in favor of the building project. "I thought you were against it," my brother said.

"We were, but it SOUNDS like most people are in favor of it," he was told. LIKE SHEEP, they had taken their cue from "community leaders" and they were simply scampering frantically after the "consensus" HERD--once that direction was made "known" to them.

During the Senate hearings on Impeachment a few years ago, the Senator from Arkansas gave an eloquent address on the significance of perjury by public officials. Afterwards, two friends of the President were in the bathroom at the urinal and one of them said, "That SOUNDS pretty bad, doesn't it?"

They ended up voting to acquit, however, once they determined which direction the rest of the HERD was going to vote. This is quintessential dumb sheep mentality, and these two anecdotes illustrate an approach to life that does NOT bode well for America's future! It's an attitude we're talking here--the attitude of Adam when he said to God, "It SOUNDED like a good idea at the time." Thus my kind of fundamental pessimism--Christian fundamental pessimism--taking into account the "signs of the times." Thus the title, "Calvin versus Hobbes" (John Calvin was a Puritan).

I guess I've been writing about the Puritans lately because Katrina means "Purity." Liberal academics have a fear of "looking back" upon history--much like Frankenstein's monster's fear of looking at a cross (that may be even more profound than modesty would appear to permit). What else would explain recent judicial "edicts"?

Alexander Hamilton was being overly optimistic when he said in The Federalist that Congress' power to impeach judges over "encroachments on the legislative authority" was a "complete security": "There can never be a danger that the judges, by a series of deliberate usurpations on the authority of the legislature, would hazzard the united resentment of [Congress]." MORAL OF STORY: never say "never"!

Anyway, after choosing my title, I looked up "Hobbes" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition. It was simple curiosity, but I was shocked to find a true "Calvin and Hobbes" historical relationship:

HOBBES, THOMAS (1588-1679), English philosopher [etc.] . . . He had begun Latin and Greek early, and under Latimer made such progress as to be able to translate the Medea of Euripides into Latin iambic verse before he was fourteen. At the age of fifteen, he was sent to Oxford and entered Magdalen Hall.

[If I may, I interrupt myself to comment: here was a man who lived over 90 years before modern pharmaceuticals, and managed to entertain himself in his teens without a Game Boy or an I-POD! What a contrast to the "self-esteemed" generation XYZ that thinks it is so advanced and so "scientific"! But to continue the quotes -]

"During his residence, the first principal of Magdalen Hall, John Hussee, was succeeded by John Wilkinson, who ruled in the interest of the Calvinistic party in the university. Thus he was brought into contact with the aggressive Puritan spirit. Apart from this, Hobbes owed little to his university training . . . "

COMMENT: When was the last time you heard modern Academia use the term "aggressive Puritan spirit"? The adjectives usually used today are "repressed," "austere," or "backward" and "witch-hunting"! Modern Academia has its perceptions 180 degrees backwards!


God chose the Pilgrims and the Puritans as the first settlers. Even their women had the "aggressive Calvinist spirit." They were not the type to berate their husbands with "You should have just let us die in England; better that than to live in this stupid wilderness!"

I am neither English nor Calvinist. I'm simply telling you that the people who paved the way for the rest of us were a different breed--a special breed of cat--and it behooves us to study what it was about them that enabled them to prevail. It's not ABOUT pessimism or optimism. On the subject of human nature, they were very pessimistic. That was in fact one of the keys to their SUCCESS! It's a paradox--or in theological terms--a "great mystery."

The months ahead of us (I hesitate to even use the word "years") are going to be about prevailing and overcoming--overcoming human nature--OR ELSE! You will hear terms about the "resilience" of the indomitable "human spirit," but the academic Left will be digging in their heels--stirring up inter-racial strife, cursing Bush, cursing Christians, and cursing God Himself to the very "end." When the media find out a politician is a Christian, the first words that come to their minds are "scary" and "nut-job" [see Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, section 1, page 1, Sept. 18, 05, key word Tom Reynolds].

Meanwhile, the Islamo-fascists revel in our divisions and partisan one-upmanships, while the state of Israel gives more and more of the Holy Land to the Islamists. Giving them your own real estate one acre at a time is like the man who cut off his dog's tail one inch at a time on the theory that it wouldn't "hurt so much."

"Pollyanna Rush" revels in the self-destructiveness of the Lefties slashing at the pinata blindfolded--as if their defeat alone will cure everything that ails America (or Israel). It won't. We have too many Republicans-in-name-only and too many "Christians"-in-name-only. This is neither pessimism nor optimism. It's a fact.

You see, Thomas Hobbes turned out to be a Deist in spite of the Calvinistic environment at Oxford. When a bright young person rebels against his educational Establishment, it can turn out for the better or for the worse. In Hobbes' case, it turned out for the worse, and too many "mainstreamers" in America are more like Hobbesian deists than real Christians.

As for Calvin, I sorely miss the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. My all-time favorite strip was one in which Hobbes said to Calvin, "You should do a better job cleaning up your room," and Calvin says:

"I don't need to do a better job. I need better PR on the job I do."

Hobbes in this case was the good guy, and Calvin was like today's teachers' unions, intellectuals, and theologians (with liberal intellectual theologians being the worst kind).

You may wonder why Billy Graham's name is in the title above. It's because by self-admission he avoids "involvement in controversial issues" and because the rest of the old-line, mainline preachers follow his example in sheep-like fashion. Abraham Lincoln didn't call merely for a day of "Prayer and Remembrance" but a day of fasting and "repentance"--a word that, I can't recall, ever crossing Billy Graham's lips.

Are there any Lincolns still around? America today doesn't have too many chiefs and too few Indians; we have 100% sheep and no leader of the flock. In The Religion of Abraham Lincoln, William Wolf says, "The Puritan heritage distilled through the 18th century patriots without, however, loss of its original religious strength explains many features in Lincoln's thought . . . His political action, as revealed by his own words, was ultimately the social expression of an understanding of God and of man that demanded responsible activity. This is contrary to a widespread modern opinion that religion should be a separate interest or even a hobby in life . . . "

I'm afraid that our Puritan heritage is becoming more and more a thing of the far distant past. We live in a Laodecian era in which even the most famous preachers of the faith "deny the power thereof"--even as the social revolutionaries win victory after victory. Those lefties claim that all they want is a "wall of separation" between the state and religion, but what they really want is a Soviet-style church that will essentially keep its mouth shut!

Revolution-by-judicial-edicts is a Soviet-style Revolution on the installment plan!

Like the bearded man on the street corner, I am not "reassured" by modern ecclesiastical optimism or "upbeat" marketing strategies on the Right. In salesmanship, the first lesson is to know the difference between a prospect and a "suspect." It's too late in the game now to be worrying about "offending" prospective "members" by calling a spade a spade; if the plain truth offends, they're probably not going to stick around very long anyway.

The Old Testament prophets didn't use "focus group" polling or "public relations firms" or "committees" to determine the content of their messages. That would've worked "real well" for them, wouldn't it have?

Jeremiah said of contemporary prognosticators, "They still say unto those who despise [God], 'The Lord has said, You shall have peace'; and they say unto every one who walks after the imagination of his own heart, 'No evil shall come upon you' . . . [but] The anger of the Lord shall not return, until He has executed, and until He has performed the thoughts of His heart; in the latter days you shall consider it perfectly . . .

"Therefore, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, who steal my words from their neighbors. [the "Living Psalms" says, "Who get their message from each other."] . . . I am against those who prophecy false dreams, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and their lightness ['sweetness and light'] . . .

"A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principle of the flock shall be heard, for the Lord has spoiled their pasture [has this process begun in New Orleans?] . . Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble . . .

"A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel--weeping for her children--refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not . . . "

If you prefer a "new testament" passage, Paul says, "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you, for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say 'Peace and safety,' sudden destruction shall come upon them." This is "a great paradox," so STOP SAYING THAT!

Smart-alek college professors and some of their students say that if you have ten preachers and ask about a given scriptural passage, you will get eleven different "interpretations." I defy anyone to come up with 10 or 11 different "interpretations" of this one:

"Jesus wept."

P.S. Remember the old song, "In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Col. Jackson down the mighty Mississip; we took a little bacon and we took a little beans . . . "? This column was ready to be posted when I received an interesting e-mail with some interesting "trivia" about Katrina and New Orleans. Thanks to someone's keen observation, it must be noted here that it was 1,814 days from 9/11/01 to the virtual destruction of New Orleans. Here is what Revelations chapter 18, verses 14-19 (1814) says.

Revelation 18:

14: And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

15: The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing. ["Merchants" are those who supported the sin.]

16: And saying, alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! [Purple & gold are the colors of Mardi Gras)]

17: For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off. [One hour is about the length of time that Katrina stayed over New Orleans.]

DISCLAIMER: I have good news and bad news. The "good" news is that Katrina wasn't the final-final fulfillment of Revelation 18:14. The bad news is that the whole world is in for more of this if we don't realize that words mean things; "sin" and "repent" mean things.

The "word for the day," boys and girls, is repent. One of the best definitions I've seen is "To turn away from sin, to sorrow or be pained for violating God's holy law, a dishonor to His character and government, and the foulest ingratitude to a Being of infinite benevolence." ( To simplify that, "repent" means to do a 180.

I do not intend to give aid and comfort to the Islamo-fascists here (or exempt them from the need for self-examination), because the Muslim world has obviously had its own "wave" of disasters from Indonesia to East Africa--disasters that cannot be blamed on President George W. Bush.

BY THE WAY, the black Muslim movement in America is blaming him for "blowing up the levees to destroy the black sections of New Orleans." Not to state the obvious, but it would be just as "credible" to say that Louis Farrakhan blew them up just to create an "issue."

AS I SAID AT THE OUTSET, we have big trouble in River City, and this one isn't going to be solved by marching bands or victories on the football field by LSU. This is serious! If the black Muslims get their wish, Katrina could be manipulated into all-out race wars in the rest of our cities. That's why our peoples need a genuine day of "fasting and repentance" (Lincoln style) and not just a "Day of Prayer and Remembrance" (totally ignored by the mainstream media).

The life-expectancy of a democracy, in historical fact, is just about 200 years. We've had just a little over 200 years from the Louisiana Purchase to the Louisiana Sellout (by corruption and incompetence in government--LOCAL AND STATE OFFICIALS INCLUDED--and we don't need any more "Southern Decadence Festivals" from the homo-fascist movement either).

Speaking of Billy Graham, I once saw him speak and I was a subscriber to Decision magazine back in 1962. I saved a very interesting article written for it Richard Nixon ("Is America a Nation of Deep Religious Faith?"; November 1962, Cuban missile crisis time). I quoted it in my book. Here are some very interesting points he had to make (

"[W]hat do we have here? Evidence of a basic faith that is widely shared and deeply felt, or simply outward signs of public piety, a verbal hangover from an era long since gone? . . . They are the outward form rather than the inner substance of a people's faith . . .

"During the years that I spent in Washington, I had the privilege of hearing some of the greatest religious leaders of our generation . . But if I might dare to venture a comment, I think that some of our voices in the pulpit today tend to speak too much about religion in the abstract, rather than in the personal, simple terms which I heard in my earlier years.

"More preaching FROM the Bible, rather than just ABOUT the Bible, is what America needs . . .

"The American people will not fail if they are summoned to their ultimate commitments and duties, and are recalled to the faith of their fathers. Way down inside they know that the fads and fancies and false values of the passing scene count for nothing . . .

"In the face of the challenge, I for one shall look with fresh interest in the days ahead to learning what the Bible has to say to our time."

AMEN, Mr. President.

As they say in North Carolina, "Bless his heart," but it's time for Billy Graham to make a DECISION. America needs to hear "what Christ has to say to our time--not to just hear "ABOUT" Christ! It's time to get REAL with the American people!


Peter Marshall, Jr., spoke of doing what is "right." The word "Right goes back ultimately to the Indo-European base reg- 'move in a straight line,' hence 'direct,' hence 'rule,' which also produced English rich and Latin rex 'king' (source of English regal, royal, etc.) Combination with . .' to' resulted in Latin rectus, 'straight, right,' which lies behind English 'rectify' [etc.]."

[John Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins, Arcade]

Public education and our "elite" universities have made the word "right" a filthy epithet, but in fact it is related to "upright" and "righteous." Even as filthy pop-up ads keep popping up on my computer these days, here I am "defending" the word RIGHT--which was so clearly understood by our forefathers. America is no longer an "upright" nation, and it will take a lot more than a couple of "right" election results to RECTIFY the social engineering of our "educators" over the last 100 years.

Maybe you agree with some of my premises, but you still don't see it as a dire situation. Let me refer you to our French cousin, Alexis de Tocqueville, for a more sobering analysis of today's "elective despotism":

"I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives . .

"Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute . . It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing . .

"[Such a government] chooses to be the sole agent and only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security . . regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances--what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living . . .

"It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd . . . till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which government is the shepherd . . Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of person, but the people at large that holds the end of his chain." --On Democracy, Revolution, and Society: Selected Writings, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1980, ed. by John Stone and Stephen Mennel, quoted in Christianity and the Constitution by John Eidsmoe

Hence the conclusion of the matter: We have been reduced to "timid and industrious sheep," and unless we Americans get over our TIMIDITY, the powers-that-be will "lead" us closer and closer to the cliff (some people think that we are already in Wile E. Coyote mode already--beyond the edge of the cliff but not yet in free-fall stage).

It's time to make a new sign and hold it up on the street corners: "HELP!"

RenewAmerica analyst Curtis Dahlgren also writes a column for RenewAmerica.

© 2005 Curtis Dahlgren

The views expressed by RenewAmerica analysts are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31