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The Redemption of Disillusionment.

Many years ago, in the middle of a theological argument about what is required for the saving of a man’s soul, I formulated another of what I call Dart’s Laws. This one is, simply stated,

"Disillusionment Is Necessary for Redemption"

I have little doubt that many of you have experienced disillusionment at one time or another in your life.


          The mentor relationship is a classic example, as the protégée thinks his mentor has the answer to everything.


                      A careless mentor may allow this sort of error to grow if he doesn’t make it clear that he is not infallible.


                      Sometimes, when the protégée comes to realize that his mentor has feet of clay, he enters what some call “The BOOM years”: in other words, becoming ones own man.

Two other classic examples of religious gurus come to mind. They occurred right around the same time.


          Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, both got caught in compromising situations and were branded as hypocrites.


                      A lot of people got disillusioned about that time.

One wonders about the followers of Jim Jones in Guyana who woke up suddenly to realize that the man was a suicidal maniac.


          For some of them, there was no time for the redemption that can follow disillusionment.

There are more examples in politics than I have time to enumerate.


          Adolph Hitler swept a whole nation along after him in an insane crusade for power that led to millions of deaths. Some estimates exceed 30 million.


                      Finally his generals became disillusioned with him and planned a coup. There were forestalled from carrying it out when they heard that Chamberlain was coming to Munich to see the Fuhrer.


                      Some finally tried an assassination which failed.

          I am haunted by the Nuremberg rallies and the cry of seig heil that went up from the throats of thousands of young people.


          I wonder at the disillusionment they felt as their nation lay in ruins at the end of it all.

And there are the venal, crooked politicians that will stand in line at the day of judgment to face God’s verdict on the things they have done and the people they have hurt.

A more subtle example is the economic crash of 2008.


          A lot of us were living in a fools paradise, thinking that we could use our credit cards indefinitely and it would never catch up with us.


          I recall one investor and investment advisor I once knew who remarked, “It will never catch up with you if you run fast enough.


                      She didn’t. She went to prison.


          I knew a lady who ran up 42,000 dollars in credit card debt and she had to declare bankruptcy. And that was long before 2008.


          We had an illusion of prosperity, and the crash was inevitable.

And in a way, that brings me full circle back to Dart’s law of disillusionment and the corollary.

“To whatever extent one has illusions, disillusionment is necessary for redemption.”


          It is true that Hitler made the trains run on time.

          It is true that Hitler put men back to work and made a start on Germany’s terrible economic problems.


          It is true that he restored a sense of pride to a people who had lost a war.


          And it is also true that his followers ignored his weaknesses in the illusion of empowerment, and that he led them to destruction.


          Germany had to go through hell to their eventual redemption, and they have become a strong and viable part of the world community.

I have to say, that the, what shall I call it, adulation being heaped on President Obama, is making me uneasy.

          Expectations have been built so high for the 44th president, that one wonders what the reaction will be when the inevitable disillusionment comes. No mortal could ever live up to the giddy expectations that have been developed around this man and his political campaign.


          The president of the United States of America is neither king nor dictator, much less a Messiah. The constitution places him as an equal power against congress and the Supreme Court. No man can live up to the promises of a political campaign, so the greater the promise, the harder the fall.


          I suspect that President Obama would have been better served with a smaller majority in congress. Now, the Democratic Party cannot hide behind the Republicans, and President Bush will be in Dallas enjoying his retirement. Power corrupts, and the future political battles will likely be among Democrats rather than between parties.


          Let the disillusionment begin. Maybe we can get back to constitutional governance.

Disillusionment, then can exist at a very personal level, at the group level, in communities and even nations.


          And if you can shed your illusions early on, and get real, as the teens might say, you will be all the better for it.

I’ve been down that road some distance myself, and as I reflected on what helped me, I naturally returned to the Bible.


          Nothing I have ever read has been so firmly rooted in reality.

Consider Jesus. Here was a man who could have led a revolution, but it would have been just one more war in the long history of wars.


          He had a following, and that following had high expectations for him


          He did what he could to help them understand, to let them down easily.

Palm Sunday. Meek and lowly. Riding an ass.

He told them what would happen, but it went in one ear and out the other.

His arrest, imprisonment and death must have been a terrible disappointment.


But his resurrection was redemption.

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