Friday, April 21, 2006

Cultural Erosion from Within

A bit more thought about the erosion of culture, from my perspective, drawing from the ideas of President Jimmy Carter:

In his book Our Endangered Values, Carter describes American culture, writing that “our people have been justifiably proud to see America’s power and influence used to preserve peace for ourselves and others, to promote economic and social justice, to raise high the banner of freedom and human rights, to protect the quality of our environment, to alleviate human suffering, to enhance the rule of law, and to cooperate with other peoples to reach these common goals.”

The premise of his book is that all this has been and is being threatened by the rise of conservative fundamentalism in religion and government. These neo-fundamentalists (my term) have some dominant characteristics, according to Carter:
1 - Led mostly by “authoritarian males who consider themselves to be superior to others.”
2 - Generally believe that “the past is better than the present” but are not averse to embracing aspects of the modern world as long as they help the cause.
3 - Distinguish themselves from others by claiming “they are right and that anyone who contradicts them is ignorant or possibly evil.”
4 - Militantly, angrily, and sometimes violently protect their beliefs and agenda.
5 - Define themselves narrowly, isolate themselves, and “view change, cooperation, negotiation, and other efforts to resolve differences as signs of weakness.”

It is funny how this list is equally applicable to church people as well as government people. Picture Donald Rumsfeld and then go back and read the list again. To a tee! Now try it with James Dobson. … see what I mean? This fact illuminates the alarming blurring of the boundary between the church and the government in our country. (And by the way, I wonder if this makes things worse for the church or for the government.)

As an American, I want my country to be the way President Carter describes it above – peace, justice, freedom, and all that.

As a Christian, I want my church to be the body of Christ, the cosmic expression of the love and grace of God – unity, acceptance, liberation, and all that.

I have neither one.

In short, I’m not so much worried about immigrants eroding away the American culture; I am worried about my fellow Americans doing so. And so, I would kindly request that all you fundamentalists out there who are ever so subtly stealing away both my country and my church please return them. (I'll start checking area "Lost and Found" booths this weekend.)


Kansas Bob said...

Agree with a lot of what Carter says. A few thoughts on our culture ...

Tolerance: funny that those who embrace it generally are intolerant when it comes to those who don't agree with them about the definition of tolerance.

Relativism: seems that many define this in abolute terms like "Everything is relative!"

In the battle for the culture all is not as it seems to be ... Carters dominant characteristics apply equally to as many on the left as on the right ... interesting that you didn't list any of them. Have you Entered the Rainbow Coalition Andy? :-)

Peace, KB

Michael said...

That list can be applied to Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton's entire spin machine, Barbra Streisand and whole host of the so-called liberal left. The fact is, each has a tendency to go so far to the left or to the right that they wind up meeting dead-center on the other side looking exactly like a reflection of the other.

Adam Caldwell said...

Amen Michael

Kansas Bob rockn' the stache!

Anonymous said...

And those comments apply equally as well to the terrorists who terrorize the middle east constantly and ventured over to our country. Carter hasn't pinpointed anything new. Depravity among mankind has existed for a long time. Big surprise.

Kansas Bob - I agree with your tolerance observation. It's funny how people forget that tolerance can only occur when you believe someones belief is in fact wrong, but continue to allow them to hold to that belief. Tolerance is not accepting that any belief can be true.

Tolerance cannot exist in a relativistic viewpoint. Only indifference can. And that, in my opinion, is what plagues our culture more than anything.