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The Agony of Turning From The Mainstream of Life

by Christopher Chantrill
May 09, 2006 at 11:27 pm

CHRISTIAN TALK-SHOW host Hugh Hewitt is properly annoyed by Andrew Sullivan’s drive-by column in Time, My Problem with Christianism. Writes Sullivan:

Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.

Is it really true to say that the “discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives?” Where is this going on? On the TV News? In the universities? In the schools? In the courts? In the Congress? On talk radio?

And just who is this religious right anyway? Pat Robertson? Jerry Falwell? Rick Warren? Just who did you have in mind?

Come on, Andrew. The main discourse about religion in the public square is coming from secular liberals who won’t shut up about the Taliban religious right. But the religious right seldom gets a chance to actually occupy bandwidth in the national conversation and get its story out. At least, the mainstream media always makes quite sure that no religious right utterance gets into the public square without rebuttal.

We understand Sullivan’s rage, of course. All political issues, all religious issues, all cultural issues for Andrew Sullivan are viewed through the lens of gay marriage. There is only one issue, and that is gay marriage. There is only one acceptable opinion: to be for gay marriage.

We tolerant conservatives do feel Sullivan’s pain. We understand his problem. It is shared by many people on the left who have been led away from the mainstream of life by the left’s ideas and agenda. They are the disaffected faculty in the university. They are the childless liberal women who still demand an absolute right to abortion. They are the childless liberal couples who have put work, or career, or spirituality, or activism, or the environment before children. And they are the gays and lesbians who imagine that by grabbing the Holy Grail of gay marriage that they will be able to return to the mainstream of life.

They will be disappointed. You do not get to live in the mainstream of life by getting the state to certify that you are mainstream. Would that it were so.

If you want to live in the mainstream of life then you need to fall in love, get married, sire children, and then raise them. Breeding, they used to call it with derision.

The mainstrem of life is rather mundane and frustrating when you are in the middle of it. You fantasize about the career you might have had, or the adventures you might have had, or the torrid love affairs you might have had.

One day as you paddle along in the mainstream of life you discover that your children are all grown and you realize that you are too old to start again with that exciting career you might have had, or the life of adventure you might have had, or the thrilling love affairs you might have had.

But if you are a liberal and you have spent half your life sneering at the mainstream of life, and then you suddenly decide that you want into the mainstream of life, what do you do? You call on sympathetic judges in Massachusetts to certify you as mainstream, to change the world with a stroke of a pen, as liberals have done all our lives. You demand that Americans admit you into the mainstream of life.

And then you get nasty.

But is really doesn’t matter what you do, or how loudly you shout and scream. You can write nasty articles calling “fundamentalist” Christians “Christianists” if you like. And then you can disingenuously claim that you are not saying that “Christianists“ are terrorists. But it still doesn’t change anything. Go ahead. Say it.

The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist... And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all.

We understand exactly what you are doing, Andrew Sullivan. You are trying to marginalize decent American Christians as extremists and bigots.

Because, decent and tolerant as they are, ordinay American citizens just cannot stomach the idea of letting liberals rip the institution of marriage to shreds. Not yet, at least. And there is no reason why they should.

Ever since the 1960s liberals have been talking down marriage. It was old-fashioned. It was middle class. It was oppressive to women. Now all of a sudden they have rushed back. We want to be married, after all, they cry!

Only, being liberals they can’t leave well alone. Ordinary marriage isn’t good enough. There must be change! There must be accommodation of the marginalized! GLBT! Polyamory! And anyone that disagrees is a bigot.

Will this nightmare never end?

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


 TAGS


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill