Donald Trump and Ann Coulter’s stunning comments clearly display what is wrong with a purely Ayn Randian libertarian worldview and philosophy, wrapped in a veneer of Christian language (in Coulter’s case). It’s simply the flip side of the coin of Marxism. One side of the coin believes in the all-powerful State and collectivism as the sufficient means for human flourishing, while the other believes in the all-powerful individual to “pull up his bootstraps,” a radical individualism at the expense of those most in need, physically and spiritually.
Category: Culture Page 2 of 20
“Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.” – Joseph Pulitzer
The babies “born alive” that were murdered by Kermit Gosnell are the same babies alive in the womb, everyday, who silently scream and fight for their lives when viewed on ultrasound. Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t stick your head in the sand about what happens during an abortion. Know what you’re supporting.
“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13 ESV)
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)
This is something I’ve been noticing as of late (at least from what I’ve personally been reading and seeing on a national and personal level, meaning it may not be what’s going on in the totality of things): that the sustained clamor of secular, anti-Christian, vitriolic chatter is kicking up a notch in terms of the audacity and indecency of it, publicly and in private conversations, among friends I have in the social networking world, even among supposed Christians oddly enough sometimes. The cynical bashing (not just criticizing) of Christians by (sometimes alleged) Christians for holding steady to the faith in practice seems striking to me and at odds with John’s doctrine of love for our brothers expounded upon in 1 John.
From the Nicki Minaj spectacle at the Grammy’s (and the subsequent lack of outrage), to personal conversations I’ve had, to the increasing level of hatred generally toward Christian notions and doctrines informing life at any level, whether in op-eds, interviews on the news, everywhere almost: Christianity is becoming a less tolerated belief system that informs public policy and of course morals.
I had an atheist friend who said recently in our chatting, quite chillingly (since he really meant it), that in the next several decades, Christianity will simply become “obsolete” and go the way of the Dodo bird. Now 1) some may just merely dismiss this as mere chatter and 2) I certainly know that Christ will build His church despite the odds and even through persecution.
But nevertheless, it’s statements like that which kind of put you back on your heals a bit, because it wasn’t just loose talk as a result of defending his atheism. This is something he really believes. The implication coming from him is that Christianity is so backward and narrow that it can’t possibly survive in the wake of science and human progress. In the course of the conversation, how and why it came up is what gives it the context too.
All of this to say: we’re not moving toward a post-Christian era, we’re in it. He’s not alone in his thought on this. I have quite a few other friends, from high school and whatnot, who think exactly the same thing. And it’s quickly turning from just (truly) tolerating Christians to opposing them actively it seems.
I’ve been recently disturbed by some of this because the slide seems to be accelerating. I’m not surprised, but in my human frailty, it is slightly fearful. And for the record, no, I’m not referring in any sense to Elephant Room 2, though that was certainly instructive to be sure and possibly correlative. That’s another discussion though.
I guess all of this is not that much different (in principle, notice) than the hatred experienced by Zechariah from his own people (Israel), who was then murdered by the same in a climax of fury. The Old and New Testaments are always instructive for present times, especially when it comes to persecution at all the varying levels, shapes and forms it takes.
What I’m curious to see is how “missional-ism, and [what I’m calling] Seeker 2.0, that is the merging of the two methodologies of seeker-ism and missional-ism” (broadly speaking, not necessarily the better examples and parts producing lasting fruit) and all this talk of “relevance” and “attraction” pans out in the face of rising persecution and deals with subordination by a culture bent on removing us from the public square, at least at first.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how trendy we are toward culture, in staying “up with the times”: if you support certain hot button issues (and believe me, a time is coming when you won’t be able to hide it), or claim Christ alone for salvation, or attempt to evangelize in any sense, that’s all outsiders are going to see and hear. That’s not to say Christians should be culturally irrelevant. I’m just making that point that it doesn’t matter whether you’re into Radiohead, organic food or whatever when it comes to persecution of a belief system. Someone coming from an ingrained secular humanist mindset could care less about your subjective tastes. I’m just not sure many of us Christians (actual and especially nominal) are prepared for the secular onslaught.
Thoughts? Am I just paranoid? Or do others see a dark cloud approaching in terms of where society is moving? I’d be curious to hear what others think on this, agree, disagree, whatever.
Carl Trueman has posted some very insightful thoughts on the nature of ‘celebrity’ in culture generally and its impact on the church specifically. He had a good bit of push back while making many good points. I’ve included Thabiti Anyabwile’s push back. As I find them I am posting them here for future reference since this is a very fascinating subject. This has made me consider the many ways in which I fall victim to this thinking at present and affects my argumentation (i.e. appeal to authority, that is, whoever is a well-known voice rather than arguing it on its own terms). This is an important subject in relation to the church, because the craving for being known and accepted by the larger world is strong. The onslaught of ‘celebrity’ has engulfed evangelicalism to a great degree to where we rely now on lesser popes and personalities instead of the ordinary means of the local church for transformation: the word preached, prayer and the sacraments.
- Messiahs Pointing to the Door – March 2009
- Home Thoughts from Abroad – April 16, 2011 @ 9:33 AM
- What hath Jerusalem to do with Hollywood? – April 19, 2011 @ 6:23 AM
- Thoughts on Marketing and Conferences – April 20, 2011 @ 11:16 AM
- — Response from Thabiti Anyabwile – “Really Trueman? Only in America?” – April 20, 2011 @ 3:09 PM
- Not guilty! – April 20, 2011 @ 4:13 PM
- The Lady Doth Protest Too Much – April 21, 2011 @ 9:02 AM
- — Second Response from Thabiti – “Uncle… Uncle!” – April 21, 2011 @ 9:34 AM
- Truly Honoured – April 21, 2011 @ 12:07 PM
- — Third Response from Thabiti – “A Solution I Had Not Considered” – April 22, 2011 @ 10:22 PM
- Fascinating Week – April 23, 2011 @ 8:24 AM
- An interesting email – April 27, 2011 @ 8:35 AM
- The Sweet Smell of Success – September 14, 2011 @ 8:24 PM
- Fixing the Indemnity – October 3, 2011 @ 6:49 AM
- An Apology – October 4, 2011 @ 9:35 AM
- A Poker Tell – January 14, 2012 @ 10:26 PM
- Do You Beat Your Wife? – January 26, 2012 @ 1:39 PM
- Gnosticism, Nicea and Celebrity – February 1, 2012 @ 8:43 AM
T4G Conference Panel:
On the Mark Driscoll Fallout from the Janet Medford Interview:
Many are weighing in and spinning what these protests are about. Liberal pundits slam only banks and couple Republicans to the problem, ad nauseum. Conservatives defend the banks against what they perceive as a monolithic group of liberal protestors while ignoring the banks’ obvious and blatant fraud as well as their disregard for the law and yet at the same time (appropriately) slamming liberals like Michael Moore for absurdly wanting to get rid of capitalism.
While I agree with Herman Cain on a lot of issues, he proved to not understand what is happening either and frankly offered a very arrogant assessment of those without jobs or aren’t rich that can’t seem to help him win many points with voters, especially independents: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.” In other words, pull up your bootstraps you unemployed yobs!
Now I’m all for personal responsibility and taking ownership, but I also believe in the ability and likelihood of elites using power and prominence for evil. Our situation economically came from and was initiated by fraud, both in the private and public sectors, and is being perpetuated and protected by people in his position, at his level. I know a couple of people who have not been able to find jobs for over 52 weeks. It is mean and arrogant to slam them as if this is something they can prevent.
But regardless in the midst of all this back and forth and nonsensical discourse that misses the forest for the trees, the message is being lost as to what this is all about.
It really comes down to something I wrote in a couple of comments on Facebook related to the protests recently:
Charles Hugh Smith, a writer over at the site Of Two Minds wrote a very interesting blog on the state of the global system, whether political, economic, social, or otherwise. He sums up our situation globally, as many others have, as one based on three fundamental things: 1) debt, 2) consumption, all with the the assumption or presupposition that 3) demand for these will always continue to infinity. And the little/big secret many, if not most, are beginning to see yet don’t want to speak of is that this entire model of debt and consumption is collapsing.
The results are first being felt in smaller nations dependent upon or a part of the West’s system: the Arab nations and southern and peripheral European nations. The riots across the Middle East and now the riots of Greece, Spain and other places in Europe are rooted ultimately in the fact the Western system is coming undone and our policies are making the dollar less valuable, which drives up the cost of food and energy. What follows is anyone’s guess.
That aside, what is interesting in particular is when Smith gets to why this is the case, philosophically, perhaps even theologically, speaking. Why are we reaching this point in the West? What has brought this about? I agree with his assessment and analysis while offering an even better remedy: Christ. Here are some of the best quotes without getting into all the economic talk as much (emphases from his site):
There’s another deeply pernicious facet to a consumer-based economy: our identity and meaning now flow from consumption, not from production or inner resources. I spent a considerable amount of Survival+ explaining how marketing and consumption are two side of the same coin.
The marketing complex has hijacked our sense of identity by engendering a deep, soul-destroying anxiety that only buying more stuff can assuage: since we are judged and valued solely by our purchased externalities, we are constantly in danger of being rendered worthless if we fail to measure up to the current metric of brand-group identity (wearing all black and a tattoo for one “brand,” a BMW and designer clothing for another, reading the New Yorker and claiming to only wear vintage clothing for another, etc.)
What we do in the real world is simply part of the “brand” which we must project, or cloak, to sooth the gnawing anxiety that is the bedrock of a consumer society. The iconography and totems of consumerism define our identity, our strivings, our sense of purpose and our experience of meaning: what I call the politics of experience, a phrase coined by R.D. Laing.
Consumption is our god, our faith and our religion. Like a cargo cult dependent on a magical connection to prosperity, we are terrified by the prospect that our religion is based on a false god–that is, that consumption and consumption alone leads to prosperity and happiness.
Like a cargo cult that we mock in our infinite industrious superiority, we worship the equivalent of rocks painted to look like radios that we can use to “call” the gods of endless prosperity.
This rock that’s painted to look like a radio is called “debt,” and we call upon it to magically provide us with prosperity from over the seas.
This other rock that’s painted to look like a radio is called “aggregate demand,” and it’s carefully worshipped by a special troop of voodoo-wielding witch doctors called Keynesians.
We are chanting magical phrases to these rock-painted “radios,” pleading for a return to easy prosperity, but nothing’s happening. We fear the magic no longer works, and that possibility terrifies us so much we can’t even bear to speak of this loss.
Future generations won’t get to spend their surplus; they will have to devote it to servicing the debts we have gaily borrowed and blown on digging holes and refilling them, part of our worship of the magical painted rocks of our false and hollow religion, Consumerism.
By degrading ourselves from producers to consumers, we have not only lost our identity and our meaning, we have lost the ability to create surpluses and invest those surpluses wisely.
And oh how the Western church has bought into and borrowed from this whole system of Consumption, and with it the marketing apparatus that has become so pervasive in our midst it’s sickening. We have bowed in many ways to the idolatrous “god” of Consumerism as a useful tool if not the answer to the survival of Christianity in the West. We have set it up as an idol that we need to repent of, returning to a more Biblical framework, i.e. faith in Christ, for every facet of church life instead of borrowing from the corrupt and worldly business world of our day.
On a related note, I was considering the other day how much the religion of Consumerism is actually rooted in the philosophical concepts of materialism, particularly dialectical materialism. This is a philosophy put forward by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose philosophy gave rise to the theories of none other than Karl Marx. Marx held to this view of the over-arching meta-narrative of life, dialectical materialism, which says (being a bit reductionistic) our sole purpose in life is related merely to the here and now. There is no deity we need to appease or even refer to, simply because he doesn’t exist, so it is thought.If he does exist he’s irrelevant to our lives and therefore we must find our own answers to our own problems.
Of course Marx went in the direction of collectivism as the answer to find hope and meaning in the midst of his bleak worldview. What is odd is that Consumerism as a religion is merely the flip-side of Marx’s view, yet they both spring from the same place: the absence of the true and living God, made known in Jesus Christ. They are two sides of the same coin. Both of these systems are inherently atheistic and borrow from the same corrupt worldview of dialectical materialism. Christianity has no business meddling in let alone borrowing from a worldview that is inherently anti-Christian.
May we repent of our dependence upon materialism, consisting of brands, products, styles, entertainment, fictional worldviews, fictional story lines and narratives that detract from the glory of God by the way we operate in life. May we find our identity in Christ alone, His person and work in the Gospel, not any of the aforementioned results from materialism. May we find our identity in who He has made us and what He desires for us, namely, holiness. Praise Christ there is hope for the lost and self-absorbed materialists. May we be a witness to a world absorbed in self and consumption as the meaning to life.
For years I’ve heard the constant theme that my and younger generations will be city dwellers for the foreseeable future. However, tonight I came across an interesting podcast by Albert Mohler who spoke with a guy named Joel Kotkin, recognized for his trends forecasting. In the discussion they had, Kotkin indicated that this trend isn’t going to continue for very long. Why? Young people get married, get settled, and start having kids. City-centers aren’t conducive to raising family’s but the suburbs are. And this is where young people are already beginning to move. Check out the podcast (hover over link and click play): http://albertmohler.com/media/audio/totl/Podcast/Thinking_In_Public_Joel_Kotkin.mp3
Also, check out an article recently written by Kotkin: http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/00444-why-america%E2%80%99s-young-and-restless-will-abandon-cities-suburbs
Revealing statement: “There is no better motivator than unaffordability.” … I actually had someone tell me this on Twitter in regard to reducing our need to use cars. So the thinking goes amongst environmentalists and command/control economic theory (Obama administration style): intentionally drive up the cost and drive down the standard of living through policy to get a result of reducing use of all modern technology, in the name of saving the planet. And this is precisely what the UN wants too in Agenda 21: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, Founder of the UN Environment Programme @ Rio Earth Summit, 1992