By Robin of Berkeley
"God is dead," according to the existentialist Nietzsche. He might as well have been talking about Berkeley, California.
Think I'm exaggerating? Take a trip out west and spend a few days on Telegraph Avenue. Then wander over to the downtown area, Shattuck and University. If you're really the daredevil, do so after dark, when the mean streets look positively Kafkaesque.
When I say God is dead in Berkeley, I don't mean just that parts of the city look like a hellhole. I'm referring to the militant anti-God vibe. While Berkeley has always had its atheists, a shift has taken place in the last decade or so. People are not merely declining a life of the spirit. Many are openly hostile toward anything or anyone having to do with God.
This wasn't always the case. When I first landed in Berkeley in the early '80s, it was a spiritual hub. There were Jesus-freaks and Jews for Jesus. The followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the sannyasins, were resplendent in red. The Hare Krishnas danced and chanted and rattled their tambourines along Telegraph Avenue.
Having been raised secular, I drank it all in like a person starved for sustenance. I immersed myself in the spiritual cornucopia, dancing with the Sufis and chanting with the Tibetans. I'd spend weeks at a time on silent retreats, gratefully sitting with gifted teachers such as Ram Dass and Stephen and Ondrea Levine.
But the times, they are a-changing. Rajneesh was deported under sketchy circumstances. Ram Dass had a catastrophic stroke in 1997.The Levines also became ill, and they can no longer travel. Berkeley's younger generation is laser-focused on their iPhones, not on salvation.
But what's most worrisome is not merely the indifference toward spirituality. If people choose to be atheists or agnostics, that's their right. But people out here aren't just making a personal and private decision. They are rabidly and vocally anti-God.
This antipathy is front and center in some unlikely places. There's increasing animosity towards 12-step programs because they're rooted in Christian theology. But the rebellion is not just from without, but also from within. In some AA meetings, members use their check-in time to lambaste Judaism and Christianity.
Consequently, Berkeley Christians share their religion in whispered tones. A person who has an appetite for worship may remain hungry for fear of ridicule. While it's perfectly acceptable in Berkeley to live openly as a bisexual, transgendered, or crossdresser, don't dare divulge a love for God. If you do so, expect public disapproval, even contempt.
And yet, why don't residents see the obvious: that's there's a connection between abandoning God and the un-Godliness of Berkeley's streets? The streets are filthy and uncivil; the crime rate spirals out of control. Because if God and His followers are chased out of town, what is left?
The radicals would argue that without a pesky, oppressive God, people are liberated. With no repressive authority spoiling the fun, the world becomes idyllic.
But when you obscure the sunshine, only darkness remains. Seal the windows, close the blinds, and what do you have? People alone in a pitch-black world, with nothing to shield or soothe them.
And the estrangement is palpable not just in Berkeley, although the alienated are concentrated here. The militant atheists are saturating the media, the schools, the entire culture with its witch's brew. The Left, as always, is at the helm. Obama covers up crosses at Notre Dame University; he deletes the Creator from the Declaration.
Obama and the Left want our country untethered from the steadfast grip of God. Spiritually impoverished, lost in space, the masses will cling to the teat of the government. Bereft of the Divine, they're shackled to the Gospel of Obama.
There are inevitable, and disastrous, consequences for slamming the door on God.
See for yourself. Come walk the streets of Berkeley, or the nearby cities: San Francisco, Oakland, or Richmond. Look deeply into people's eyes and behold the anger, the desperation...or see nothing at all.
Because when a city, or a nation, buries God, what is left is an excruciating, unfathomable void. And in the ever-widening chasm, dark forces -- the evil squatters -- take up residency