The New York Times on The Culture War: A Fisk

I have to give all the credit for this post to Marina Fontaine, who posted this article and requested a fisk.  I clicked on the article, and was more than happy to oblige after reading only the first sentence.

Summoned

I’m not sure who this David Brooks fellow is, but he seems to think quite a bit of himself and his opinion, so he is a prime candidate for the fisking skills of Lori The Organist Extraordinaire.

With all the recent social upheaval over the Supreme Court’s many recent decisions, like the death penalty, Texas abortion clinics, and of course, gay “marriage,” sooner or later some silly person is going to try and “address” all of the “problems” that those “crazy conservatives” have.  After all, they’re not really that important or scary.  They’re doomed, and they know it.  Blah blah blah.

As usual, the original is in italics, and my comments are in bold.


Christianity is in decline in the United States.

Oh, really?  Just looking at bare numbers and not any degree of orthodoxy or practice (more on that later), as of 2010, there were 2.18 billion Christians in the world, which is a third of the total world population.  There are over one billion Catholics alone.

In America, there are 246,780,000 Christians (79.5% of the population), and 78% of Americans “identify” as Christian.

So, yeah.  78%.  I can’t think of much else in the world today that 78% of Americans agree on.  Tell me again how Christianity is in decline in the United States.

The share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians and attend church is dropping. Evangelical voters make up a smaller share of the electorate.

Really?  Show me your proof, jerk.

Members of the millennial generation are detaching themselves from religious institutions in droves.

Uh-huh.  Then I guess these people talking about those millennials wanting more religion and more traditional religion are just liars, right?

Christianity’s gravest setbacks are in the realm of values.

Um, yeah, you’re officially an idiot.  Christianity defines values.  The culture is called Judeo-Christian for a very good reason.  We shaped the culture.  Things like American law wouldn’t exist without the Christians.  Those things everyone admires, like kindness, justice, charity to the poor, etc. were defined and held up as the standard to follow by Christians.

While I’m on the subject, those parts of American law that we hold most dear — the right to speak in your own defense, or to refuse to incriminate yourself, a jury of your peers, and impartial witnesses against you — came out of the Spanish freaking Inquisition!  Queen Isabelle wanted to make sure that no one with a grudge against their neighbor could denounce him and get him killed.  America adopted that practice that the Catholics started in the Inquisition.

The next time you try to say that the Inquisition was such an evil horrible bad thing, remember your rights in an American court and thank God that the Inquisition happened.

So, tell me again how Christianity is such a setback.

American culture is shifting away from orthodox Christian positions on homosexuality, premarital sex, contraception, out-of-wedlock childbearing, divorce and a range of other social issues.

If that’s true, then why is it that, even though the Supreme Court — that is, five of the nine Supreme Court Justices — legalized gay “marriage” through another instance of judicial activism, state legislatures all over the country are trying to ban it?  Why are citizens of those states marching in protest?  Why are governors and AGs determined to protect their people from religious persecution in the face of that decision?  How is it that a Christian court clerk is already being sued over it, because she refused to comply?

America hasn’t shifted away from those values.  The liberal press wants us to think we have.  Those radical gay-rights people are what, 1% of the population, and yet they are dictating to the rest of us?

Tell me again how “everyone” is changing their opinion.

More and more Christians feel estranged from mainstream culture.

Really?  What happened to “if you had been of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19), or “Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him” (1 John 3:1)?

We’re Christians.  We’re supposed to be estranged from mainstream culture.  If we’re not, we’re not doing it right.

They fear they will soon be treated as social pariahs, the moral equivalent of segregationists because of their adherence to scriptural teaching on gay marriage. They fear their colleges will be decertified, their religious institutions will lose their tax-exempt status, their religious liberty will come under greater assault.

Yeah, we do fear those things.  We should fear those things, but not because we’re the ones with the problem.  Mainstream culture is the one with the problem.  So we need to get up off our butts and fight it, tooth and nail, because without us Christians, it is lost, utterly, completely, and permanently.

We fear those things.  But we can saddle up anyway.

JohnWayneThe Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision landed like some sort of culminating body blow onto this beleaguered climate.

Uh, really?

In other words, it hurt us.  At least, I think that’s what you were trying to say.

InigoRod Dreher, author of the truly outstanding book “How Dante Can Save Your Life,” wrote an essay in Time in which he argued that it was time for Christians to strategically retreat into their own communities, where they could keep “the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness.”

So . . . we’re supposed to retreat and hide.  Keep our faith to ourselves instead of using it to change the world.

I don’t think so:

“You are the light of the world.  A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.  So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

“For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness, shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers, shall be preached on the housetops” (Luke 12:3).

“And this is the judgement: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil” (John 3:19).

“The night is passed, and the day is at hand.  Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

ClearingTheTempleHe continued: “We have to accept that we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist.”

I can’t believe you just said that.  You might as well say that the color red no longer exists.  It’s impossible.  Those “norms” are the truth.  The truth does not change just because five old Supreme Court Justices said that it did.  Truth is always the same, no matter what crazy things society gets itself into.  Sin is still sin, no matter how many people say it’s not.  Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are always Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  Those “norms” you’re so quick to dismiss may be under attack, but they still exist, and they always will.

Most Christian commentary has opted for another strategy: fight on.

Hell yeah, we fight on!

Several contributors to a symposium in the journal First Things about the court’s Obergefell decision last week called the ruling the Roe v. Wade of marriage.

An apt comparison, actually.

It must be resisted and resisted again.

You got that right.

Robert P. George, probably the most brilliant social conservative theorist in the country, argued that just as Lincoln persistently rejected the Dred Scott decision, so “we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation.”

Judicial usurpation, huh?  I like that phrase, and it’s very accurate.  Even people who think that gay “marriage” should be legal should worry about the power the Supreme Court is wielding.  Five old fogies on a bench can dictate to the whole country?  That is terrifying.

These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.

Again, you’re right.  I keep waiting for you to make some kind of point, because you can’t possibly keep being right.  And stop it with this fatalistic tone; don’t talk down to us.

I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues.

Really?  Do tell.

But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer.

Uh, nope.  But don’t feel bad.

And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course.

Not just no, but HELL no.  There are only two roads, and they are mutually exclusive.  You might as well try and convince us to give up entirely, because that is the only other choice.  Oh, wait.  You ARE trying to get us to give up.

Stuff it.

AponeConsider putting aside, in the current climate, the culture war oriented around the sexual revolution.

In other words, stop.  Sit down and shut up.  Go sit at the back of the culture bus where no one will see you.

No.

Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief.

Alienated, huh?  Then why are 78% of Americans still Christian?

And again: NO.

Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex.

Excuse me, but we are NOT the ones obsessed with sex.  You are — the ones who want to reduce everyone’s identity to a “gender identity;” the ones who keep forcing sex into the headlines with a disguise of “rights” and “tolerance.”

Obsessed

And if telling the truth is a “communications disaster,” so be it.

Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.

Yeah, you’d love that, wouldn’t you?  Quit saying “put aside” when you really mean “give up.”  The only way we lose is if we give up.

EBurkeConsider a different culture war, one just as central to your faith and far more powerful in its persuasive witness.

Oh, I love this tactic.  Change the definitions so that we get distracted from the real problem.

We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed.

So?  That’s another problem we like to address — like the divorce epidemic, for example — but you were just criticizing us for addressing it.  Make up your mind.

Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements.

Yes, and we fight that, too.  By supporting the traditional family structure.  That the Supreme Court just destroyed.  Did you ever consider that?

Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital.

What the hell are you talking about?  I’ve never heard of “social capital.”  “Capital” usually means “money.”  We’re not talking about economics; we’re talking about the culture war. Stop clouding the issue.

Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms.

Another thing we fight against!  With rules about things like that!  But I thought you just told us to stop obeying the rules and give up the fight?!

Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through.

Which we fight against, too!  We like to evangelize, to bring people into our churches!  But didn’t you just say that that was a very bad thing?  Something that was doomed to fail?

SimonSocial conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society.

Yep, that’s what we do.  We’d have a lot better luck accomplishing it if you lefties would get out of our way and let us work.

They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love.

Gee, thanks.

They can serve as examples of commitment.

Which we do, or try to, anyway.  When you left-wing haters will let us talk, that is.

They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans.

Uh, yeah.  That’s what religion does.  It teaches us those things.  Your point again?

They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.

That’s not a bad thing.  “But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth.  That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee” (Matthew 6:3-4).

The defining face of social conservatism could be this:

Do tell.

Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families.

We do that already, moron.

Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse.

Yep, and that too.  Under what rock have you been living?

Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other.

And that.

Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

Except when we try that, people spit on us and tell us to shut up and sue us into silence.

This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority. It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.

We can’t do those things in public, thanks to you leftists.  Whenever we do, we get sued into silence and inaction.

I don’t expect social conservatives to change their positions on sex, and of course fights about the definition of marriage are meant as efforts to reweave society. But the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon.

It will only stay in place if we listen to morons like you and remain silent.

The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable.

Which is what we’re trying to do.

Social conservatives are well equipped to repair this fabric, and to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace.

Gee, thanks.  So, you want the conservatives to be nice, happy, fluffy, sweet, incompetent people who give out free food and clothing, and make everyone feel good, instead of teaching the truth and saving someone’s soul?

That would work out well for you leftists, wouldn’t it?  Your culture war would be won a lot more easily if we’d just shut up, wouldn’t it?

I refuse.

You will not silence us.  You will not intimidate us.  You will not make us go away.

And you know what else?  We will still be here long after you and all the people like you are gone.  The Church has outlived every other empire; has survived deadly persecution, not just the social ostracizing you’re putting us through; and She has flourished.

Something Pope Francis said that the haters don’t like to quote: “As in the ancient Church, the blood of the martyrs became the seed of new Christians.”

We won’t stop doing the right thing.  We won’t stop trying to change the culture that has been poisoned by evil.  So go ahead.  Keep on hating us.  Keep on with your soft persecution; go ahead and turn it up a notch and start killing us in the street like so many of your evil predecessors.  Do it.

We will still be here when you’re finished.

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One Response to The New York Times on The Culture War: A Fisk

  1. Foxfier says:

    Given what he apparently things Christianity is– those parts of Christian-based culture that he objects to, but not the Christian morality that he does like– I think he’s in the old “I want the rights without the responsibilities” loop. Kind of like how “freedom” gets redefined to mean the right to do things without consequences.

    Like

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