Those who have read this blog long enough know my affinity for Whittaker Chambers, a man I consider one of the true heroes in American history. That’s why he is one of the subjects of my new book The Witness and the President: Whittaker Chambers, Ronald Reagan, and the Future of Freedom.
He had joined the Communist Party in the 1920s, thinking it was the answer to all the world’s crises. Only later did he come to grips with his error, but when he did, a whole new understanding opened to him.
As he notes in his masterful autobiography Witness, his mind had to be renewed completely:
What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind–the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step.
As he stepped out into his new reality, he found faith in God, and that gave him insight that is well worth sharing with our generation:
External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom. Hence every sincere break with Communism is a religious experience.
There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died.
That last line is haunting. How indifferent are we as a nation right now? How close are we to death?