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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


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


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


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


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


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


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill