There’s no question Mormonism has a strong apocalyptic vein running through it.
We’re so comfortable nowadays, though, that I sometimes think we treat the Second Coming too much like we treat the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween: Something we get a delicious chill from scaring ourselves with, but not to be taken seriously, especially when the sun comes up as usual the next morning.
I’ve indulged in a surprisingly bracing if decidedly secular remedy: Two secular-apocalyptic books, America Alone by Mark Steyn and We Are Doomed by John Derbyshire.
Marc Steyn is an ex-Canadian living in New Hampshire who has more or less stuck his thumb in the eye of the Canadian Human Rights Commission by having the effrontery to say unflattering things about the threat posed to the West by Islam. None of this “Islamofascism” or “Islamism” business for Steyn: He takes the position that, if there really a moderate strain of Islam prepared to coexist with the secular West, it needs to make itself heard. (Sound of crickets chirping.)
From a population peak in 1992 of 148 million, Russia will be down below 130 million by 2015, thereafter dropping to perhaps 50 or 60 million by the end of the century, a third of what it ws at the fall of the Soviet Union…. Russia has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world — 1.2 children per women — and one of the highest abortion rates. When it comes to the future, most Russian women are voting with their fetus: 70 percent of pregnancies are terminated.
So a combination of factors is bringing about a remarkable event: the death of a great nation not through war or devastation but through its inability to rouse itself from its won suicidal tendencies. As Mrs. Thatcher likes to say, “The facts of life are conservative.” The nation that tried to buck those facts of life the most thoroughly is falling the fastest. Churchill didn’t know the half of it: Russia is a vacuum wrapped in a nullity inside an abyss.
Steyn does not fear the rise of China. No, Steyn believes that, while demographics are not everything, they are about 90% of everything, and China has a birth rate almost as appallingly low as Russia. It is the Islamic world where mothers are still averaging 5 or 6 children apiece. Steyn sees the U.S. as the only hope for the West, because only the U.S. among the modern Western nations has a birth rate above replacement (and that just barely.) Yes, Steyn mentions both Catholics and Mormons, and not in unflattering terms, though my sense is he is a conservative Protestant.
Derbyshire is an ex-Brit famously described by Jonah Goldberg as one of those damp pessimistic agnostic British conservatives. (Or something like that; I’m going by memory.) So it is no surprise his book is entitled We Are Doomed. The Derb is also, interestingly enough, a popular writer of no mean skill on mathematics; I quite enjoyed his book on the Riemann Hypothesis. (What a man!) His book is a brightly cheerful description of why we are going down the toilet, why this should surprise no conservative, and why “smiley-face conservatives” are no use to him. A sample:
In September 2006, political scientist Robert Putnam was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize …
As usual with such events in the academic world, Putnam presented a research paper to commemorate the event. The paper is titled “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century” …
The paper has a very curious structure. After a brief introduction (two pages), there are three main sections, headed as follows:
- The Prospects and Benefits of Immigration and Ethnic Diversity (three pages)
- Immigration and Diversity Foster Social Isolation (nineteen pages)
- Becoming Comfortable with Diversity (seven pages)
I’ve had some mild amusement here at my desk trying to think up imaginary research papers similarly structured. One for publication in a health journal, perhaps, with three sections titled:
- Health benefits of drinking green tea
- Green tea causes intestinal cancer
- Making the switch to green tea…
The attentive reader may have noticed a rather long gap between Putnam’s study, done in 2000, and the publication of the results in summary form in the 2006 Uppsala paper … What was Professor Putnam doing with the data for six years?
In the fall of 2006 he incautiously gave an answer to that question while being interviewed by reporter John Lloyd of the Financial Times. Putnam had, Lloyd reported, “delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it ‘would have been irresponsible to publish without that.’”