Another American ‘Unraveling’ — And This One Might Be Worse Than the Others

Written by Clearchus on August 3, 2017

I discovered Dr. Gary Brashear, the other day. He laid out a fascinating paradigm for how our society thinks about sin and human pathologies. First is Guilt – Innocence. For the last 500 years, this was the predominant theme for handling sin and salvation. All have sinned, the law condemns us, and we fall short of the glory of God. Jesus died for what kills us permanently in the end so that we do not die.

That one’s easy because most of us parent this way, go to church for this reason, and we’re nice little Pharisees, often forgetting lessons of Grace that are portrayed as being loosey-goosey with sin.

Guilt-Innocence is still valid and relevant as truth, but is less so as you move from Boomers through Xers to Millennials. The reason is that we are in the LOOONNNGGG Unraveling. Most past Unravelings, French Indian War (1760s), Cavaliers of the Pilgrims (1600s), and the roaring twenties and Great Depression (1920s to 1930s) were classic unravelings that were preludes to deadly crises that killed lots of people. These Unravelings were all periods of cynicism and bad manners, when civic authority felt weak, social disorder felt pervasive, and the culture felt exhausted. In each case, Rescue came from HERO Generations like the GI Joe Generation.

In American History, two Unravelings took a long time – The 1830 to 1860 unraveling was about life and death along the Mason Dixon Line, north and south, slave and free, tyranny and liberty. It was a death of a thousand cuts that took the nation into the Civil War.

The other is the one we are living now. Our LOOONNNG Unraveling began in the1980s and is still happening. Our Unraveling opened with triumphant “Morning in America” individualism. It drifted toward a pervasive distrust of institutions and leaders, an edgy popular culture, and the splitting of national consensus into competing “values” camps. Coming of age during this Unraveling was the Nomad archetype Generation X (born 1961-1981) … And the Millennials (born 1982 – 2001… Perhaps out to 2004). The Unraveling we are living now has lasted longer than the 1830 to 1860 Unraveling.

Here’s the Key — Our Unraveling is the death culture of a thousand cuts that reflects the fierce Boomer-Divided spiritual Awakening — Divided between Life and Death, between the Summer of Love and Jesus Freak concerts. Like Dred Scott in 1856 legitimized slavery in all states, Roe v Wade legitimized abortion. Thank-you, Supreme Court.

Let’s go back to Dr. Gary Brashear and his paradigms. His second one is Honor – Shame. In this one, thought ranges from “everyone gets a trophy” to debilitating shame that hammers individual lives into oblivion. Dr. Brashear had five more that will be dealt with in later columns but I want to pause on Honor-Shame.

Bing defines Shame as both a noun and a verb:
1.a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior:
synonyms: humiliation · mortification · chagrin · ignominy · embarrassment ·
1.(of a person, action, or situation) make (someone) feel ashamed:
synonyms: humiliate · mortify · chagrin · embarrass · abash · chasten · humble ·

For Boomers, like my wife and I, we often parented with shame to criticize our kids into Guilt-Innocence, making the mistake that we thought we could criticize our kids into righteousness. We’ve apologized to our kids for not having enough true grace but the impact of this across our culture brings us to Honor-Shame in our latest intense rounds of the Unraveling. The response of many across the Boomer, Xer, and Millennial generations is not to deal with the cause of their shame but to “Come out of the Closet”. In turn, we have groups embracing their pathologies as Civil Rights protected choices. This adds venom and vitriol to our Unraveling.

In Montesquieu’s laydown of government frameworks, he spoke to Dictatorship in which decisions of morality are made for people, Autonomy in which people make their own decisions, and Anarchy where tyranny and force are used to bring populations into order. By elevating Shame to a choice, the groups who “Come out of the Closet” demand that their choices be legitimized as Civil Rights. In other words, they began by making autonomous choices but step to dictatorship, demanding their choices be accepted. The Irony is that even Montesquieu said those two cannot “coexist”.

We are in a LOONNGG Unraveling, fed by the Fake News and velocity of information along the axis of the Internet, but some have asked why it’s not the crises. The answer is brutally simple. Not enough people have died, yet. When the dying begins, our Unraveling will transition to Crises, like the other Unravelings were preludes to their era conflagrations.

Back to the personal – We stopped trying to criticize our kids into righteousness, striving to embrace grace and love. In this special place that can ONLY be a gift of our Creator and His son, our family has disagreements but we are not Unraveling. We are not perfect by any means and we make mistakes and have disagreements but keeping the Unraveling at arm’s length away from the dinner table is both hard and joyful work.

Check out my seventh book published on Amazon, Black Gladius: Book 1 of the Culling at:

photo credit: Geoff Livingston Losing Faith in American Democracy [Explored] via photopin (license)

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Clearchus is the author of three Science Fiction books: Sunigin, Insurgio and Certo (Available at Amazon) about the next Texas Revolution. He is a retired Army Field Artilleryman who was one of the last men in the U.S. Army to command an M110 8" Howitzer firing battery. He currently designs computer networks for commercial, non-profit, and government environments. Married for 32 years to the most gorgeous babe he knows, he and his wife have four kids. Their lives and perspectives straddle military assignments, combat tours, and mission trips across Europe, Asia, and the Horn of Africa.