The Secret Things That Connect the Right and Left (and how the LGBTQ community and Christian church are more connected than they realize, or want to be)

rightleftbrain

What nuggets of wisdom and truth are there to mine from this rock? There are more than this, but this specifically is worth pointing out:

These boys will be allowed to forget everything but their own immediate feelings for as long as society allows them, and this society allows straight white boys to dodge personal and emotional responsibility until at least the age of 70.

Big part of the problem right there. Society and the left have failed at this level, and so has the right. It seems to me to be systemic. Parents matter. A lot. But not even some parents know how to teach personal and emotional responsibility because they weren’t taught it themselves.

Many of us grew up trying to be the everyman–the one who can do everything by himself. The one who can tough it out. The one who doesn’t need to depend on anyone to make it. Some of the kids and young men I know today are chasing after this fantasy, because they believe that if they don’t, they’re not real men. That they don’t have what it takes.

But it’s not true. Human beings were designed to be dependent upon one another. Not co-dependent, but dependent. We were designed to engage with our emotions, not suppress them. Both men and women.

On the left, this radical deification of autonomy as the supreme American value has resulted in, to varying degrees, a non-falsifiable belief in one’s own righteousness that demeans others who are different as a form of virtue signalling. In doing so it has inculcated a deep, secret fear in its advocates that they could be judged as bad people if they show any weakness by diverting from the approved set of sacred beliefs. It has led to the creation of safe spaces designed as a defense against negative emotions like shame and fear, but prevents today’s kids from learning how to healthily process them. A judgment-free zone has arisen where correctly diagnosing mental unwellness and imbalance in order to restore the true self is thought of as a denial of one’s real self. Here I am speaking of the kind of thing that happens when one’s feeling of who they are does not match what their body tells them they are. As an example, transableism is gaining traction as a socially-acceptable identity, which is a belief that one should not have a completely functioning body, and where people seek instead to intentionally become disabled in some respect.

On the right, this same deification of autonomy has resulted in an individualistic twisted version of John Wayne’s machismo that demeans others who are different as a form of masculine strength. In doing so it has inculcated a deep, secret fear in young men that they could be judged as unworthy of manhood if they show any emotion or speak about women respectfully in front of their peers when women aren’t around. It has created a culture that has embraced spite and mockery as an acceptable, even heroic response to the antics of the illiberal wing of the leftist progressive movement, and in doing so prevents men and women from healthily channeling their frustrations. A culture of cruelty and revenge has arisen in the place of the belief in the equal worth and dignity of all humankind.

The results on both the left and right are, in reality, interlinked. Each finds in the other part of its cause. And everywhere these things have created fractured individuals who are, perhaps permanently, separated from who they really are as men and women, and from the God who gives them these true identities.

The solution, I am convinced, is pre-political. That is, the answer to this fracturing of our selves and therefore our culture lies in the form of something that did not have its genesis in politics, but rather something more essential to who we are as human beings.

What has created this? At the root, sin has. Dr. Rosaria Butterfield speaks of sin this way.

Sin practiced sears your conscience, it harms your soul, and it makes you long for the very thing that will kill you. The Bible talks about that in terms of the flesh.

And so it is not the sort of thing a government or law can fix. And so we must begin to ask ourselves if the very things we see as political solutions are not in themselves sin.

Those of us who are followers of Jesus struggle daily with this sin.

Dr. Butterfield again says:

Sin distracts us. It takes us off course. We weren’t looking for it. It was looking for us, Genesis says. We weren’t intending, but it found us. Then indwelling sin manipulates us and it took a while for me to realize that my lesbianism was indwelling sin, and it was indwelling sin because I had practiced it for so long. Indwelling sin manipulates you. For me, it was a very painful reality that there was a war inside, that between the indwelling sin of my lesbian desire and my union with Christ that was new, small, and nascent, but growing.

Thus, we Christians have to be committed to an active and long-running battle against this sin. This repentance is a daily and ongoing thing. And that’s why we need a community of fellow believers who are all repenting and who are doing so transparently. Knowledge that others are struggling and that they don’t condemn us for our failures keeps us going, gives us hope, and gives us faith.

The American church has a long way to go. Being available only on Sundays isn’t going to cut it. You can’t schedule times to support one another. Church on Sundays and potlucks once a quarter aren’t enough time to know each other. Pretending you’re fine to maintain a safe emotional distance from others in that church space is no way to live.

The LGBTQ community has done wonders in this area. This community opens its doors to those who are suffering. People who have suffered as much as this community cannot help but support each other. Their homes are open day and night and they have regular, spontaneous get-togethers. They provide safe spaces for each other to be themselves and perhaps, if they’re suicidal, hang on for another day.

The LGBTQ community has much to teach the American church about how to be a community. And we have much to teach them about a God who loves them. We are both, in a sense, connected by our separation from each other. We fear each other, and hate each other’s sin, but we need each other. Our mutual sin keeps us separated from one another and from the love of Christ.

Community, it turns out, can do a lot to help invest our children with the tools they need to develop personal and emotional responsibility. But community cannot itself scale into a government. There are those who today are trying to make that happen. But no amount of laws or political willpower can create community out of a nation, because these things cannot address the individual.

But church community, especially, was designed for the individual without fracturing him or her. And this community has something no others have; a message of hope that Christ intended for the individual, a message which Christ has commanded those whom He has chosen to peaceful advocate to our enemies. It is a message that one’s self worth doesn’t reside in what one does or can do, but rather in Whom they belong to; a Person who doesn’t change, who won’t betray you, who won’t stop loving you no matter how much you screw up, yet who wants you to struggle with your sin in order to mortify it. This Father God is the one whom not even many American Christians speak about because they do not know Him well. But He is good.

…if we really live as the family of God, the watching world would see that. It would be irresistible. People are dying of loneliness. People in our churches, people in our neighborhood. It’s an agony to see so many lonely people. If the church really had an understanding of itself as a family and a deep committed calling to draw others into that, that would change everything.

That fractured self that has fractured our society? I think Dr. Butterfield knows how to fix them.

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On Punching Nazis and Non-Violence

I’m seeing a troubling trend on the social justice left. After being ejected from the halls of power in America, I’m now seeing open calls to violence. It is just a small step over the line, because they are currently limited to advocating violence against open white supremacists, a deplorable lot no matter whom you ask. But this is a troubling and disturbing slippery slope. One that invites catastrophic decay. Here’s an example; a series of tweets from a fellow named @meakoopa.

  • every liberal democracy realizes early on there are some positions which must prima facie be aggressively excluded from public discourse
  • u can’t even articulate WHY they are unreasonable bc to articulate WHY they are unreasonable is to itself open the possibility of reason.
  • this is why u can’t allow “just hypothetical” questions abt whether Jews or blacks, as Spencer posits, are innately inferior/destroyable.
  • Nazi theorists like Carl Schmitt VERY QUICKLY diagnosed this weakness in liberal democracies –
  • U can collapse a democracy by insisting the democracy had a right to end itself: Hindenburg to Hitler, “the peaceful transition of power.”
  • Intolerance cannot be tolerated, bc this corrosive effect means the law can be co-opted by, and so protective of, fascism.
  • Fascism wriggles into democracies by insisting on right to be heard, achieves critical mass, then dissolves the organs that installed it.
  • WHICH MEANS the stronger it becomes, it cannot be sufficiently combatted with reason. Bc “reason” becomes the state’s tool to enforce.
  • The Overton Window becomes weaponized – as we are seeing in @KellyannePolls and @seanspicer’s “alternative facts.” The state decides.
  • Liberalism literally cannot see this – its insistence on rule of law, not genocideal lust, is what turned the German people into good Nazis.
  • some positions must be excluded from discourse. Some positions you do not listen to – u can only punch.
  • A society that begins to entertain why some members of its polis might not belong invites catastrophic decay. Those voices must be excluded.
  • TL;DR – punching a nazi is actually a supreme act of democracy bc it will not tolerate a direct affront of a fellow citizen’s citizenship.
  • the term to interrogate in “should you punch a nazi?” is SHOULD – what is the status of that “should”? Legally: no; ethically: fuck yes.
I am troubled that when civil society doesn’t go our way, we so easily slide into hatred and violence. Even when it appears justified, like punching a Nazi giving an interview, physical acts against hateful ideas yield only more darkness, as Martin Luther King Jr. said.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil —
hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars —
must be broken,
or we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Strength To Love, 1963

Ideas must be opposed with ideas or direct non-violent action. For the Nazi who was punched, refusing to interview him or give him a platform to speak is non-violent and pretty effective. I stand between complacent ‘do nothing-ism’ and the hatred and despair now emerging, and advocate for both refuting harmful ideas with better ones and non-violent action. The night before the Nazi got punched, a man in Seattle was shot because he was taken to be a white supremacist. He was actually a fellow protester.

Alistair Roberts said on his own blog post on the subject, “The carelessly hyperbolic rhetoric of the social justice left greases the surface of the plane of social antagonisms, enabling us to make some incredibly dangerous moves from ideological opposition towards physical violence extremely easily.”

Vigilante justice has never yielded justice. In Seattle, it led to an injustice. To embrace violence against harmful ideas is to reject Martin Luther King Jr’s more excellent way that he laid out in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It’s persuasive for a reason. And it is now once again relevant today. Please read it.

While it is true that ideas that have contributed to evils such as genocide must be managed with care, insisting on the right to be heard is not the only way in which fascism can wriggle into a republic. It also wriggles into them by rejecting reason as useless! And in advocating for violence to silence objectionable opinion, fascism also rejects the path of Christian love and non-violent protest.

When love is rejected, frequent use of hyperbolic language (see: Twitter, Facebook) becomes the way to label those who don’t support your belief system. And when reason and non-violence are rejected, individual violence is legitimized against the more deplorable of those nonbelievers. The problem these two trends create is twofold. On the one hand, hyperbolic language has a dehumanizing and delegitimizing effect not just on the objectively inhumane and hateful speech of white supremacy, but on any other person who holds an opinion rendered unfashionable by the collective. That’s because the list of ‘nonbelievers’ inevitably expands (see Animal Farm), and each are driven out or silenced with mob violence or the threat of social repercussions.

That’s how brown shirts enabled Hitler’s rise. That’s actually how the organs of a republic are dissolved. The brown shirts didn’t ask politely for a seat at the table of public discourse and the Germans in the Weimar Republic let them sit down. They bullied their way in.

Punching a Nazi giving an interview is an act of fascism, because it already says that some members of the polis do not belong. And here’s the part meakoopa is right about; that when we entertain that some members of our society do not belong (no matter how objectionable we may find them) then that begins the “descending spiral of destruction” Martin Luther King talked about toward the catastrophic decay meakoopa talks about as we soon find out that there are still others who also do not belong. And still others. And more after that. Until there’s just us.

No justice. Just us.

“Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why We Can’t Wait, 1963

What We Can Learn From ‘How the Left Talks About Race’

You should read this blog post. When you’re done, come back here.

My initial impression: Wow. In a good way. Oh yes, I understand that he stereotypes anyone right-of-center as being impossible to talk with about racism. Hopefully this post serves as a demonstration that that’s not actually an accurate perception of reality, although I acknowledge there is an underlying kernel of truth to it that makes the conclusion seem plausible. So let’s leave that alone and focus on what I found impressive about the blog post.

Matthew 7:1-5 from the Bible comes to mind. It’s when Jesus during his Sermon on the Mount talks about judging and how to do so properly by first taking the log out of your own eye before you remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Noah is a leftist progressive talking to fellow leftist progressives. He doesn’t explicitly acknowledge any of his own failings in how he has talked about race in the past, so he is not precisely demonstrating Jesus’ command to first take the log out of his own eye. But putting aside the command as it applies to his individual person, and instead looking at what he is doing in this blog post in terms of speaking as a leftist and examining leftist tendencies to do things wrongly, he is.

I believe white American Christians need to do something similar. We need to examine our own attitudes toward race and repent first of those attitudes that lead us into permitting or even causing injustice toward non-whites. I’m not quite sure what that looks like, but I have a gut feeling that we should first start with examining how we treat our non-white Christian brethren. A united church can do a lot to combat racism. So perhaps we ought to start by getting our own house in order.

How do we do that? Apologetics.com recently held a two-hour conversation on race, racism and the church. I think you should listen to it, because I think it poses questions and some solutions that server as an excellent starting point.

Finally, Proverbs 15:1 says that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. Noah isn’t accusatory in his blog post but comes across as reasonable. I want to strive to be more like this, and especially here on this blog. Let’s strive to be excellent to each other.