We Are Facing a Cultural Crisis
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed as America’s first Black female Supreme Court justice. Russia was suspended yesterday from the UN Human Rights Council. Tiger Woods’ return to the Masters is being called “his greatest achievement.” Opening Day for Major League Baseball was yesterday.
In the midst of such headline-making news, why should you care that Elon Musk is now on the board of Twitter, where he recently became the single largest shareholder? Less than one in four Americans even use Twitter. And yet, the Wall Street Journal calls Musk’s engagement on the social media site “a hopeful moment for political speech and debate at America’s increasingly censorious tech giants.”
Axios columnist Jim VandeHei explains: “Right now, Twitter decides if former President Trump can post on its platform, and whether to delete a post about vaccines if it and most scientists deem the post misinformation. In a decentralized web, you would decide if Trump appears on the web3 equivalent of your Twitter feed—and set your own thresholds on vaccine information providers” (his emphases).
In a day when Americans trust The Weather Channel more than all other media organizations (by a large margin), it is clear that media agendas are undermining trust in media. As I hope to explain today, this issue is vital not just for our news consumption but for the very future of our society.
Has FOX News "sold its soul"?
FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott recently announced that Caitlyn Jenner would be joining their organization as a contributor, stating, “Caitlyn’s story is an inspiration to us all.” The news prompted Christian Post contributor Michael Brown to write an article with the headline“Christian conservatives, you cannot put your trust in Fox News.” He claims that the news organization “has lost its voice and sold its soul.”
Bills that would legalize infanticide have been introduced in Maryland and in California. Colorado’s governor signed a bill legalizing abortions up to birth with no limits. A battle over abortions induced by “abortion pills” is looming. The Atlantic has a long essay profiling abortion activists who are developing ways to provide abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this June.
What could these disparate stories have in common?
The best historical explanation of our cultural crisis
Carl R. Trueman’s new book is titled Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution. It is the best historical explanation of our current cultural crisis I have ever read. (For a summary of his argument, please see my overview of the book on our website.)
Trueman believes we are facing today “a situation without obvious historical parallel.” In brief, contemporary society has made two catastrophic decisions that are undermining our culture and endangering our future.
One: We have decided that we are whatever we feel ourselves to be.
Trueman defines “the modern self” as “one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings.” He traces this evolution from Descartes through Rousseau, the Romantics, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Wilhelm Reich.
Whether we have read these thinkers or not, we are now all influenced by their assertions. In fact, any attempt to express disapproval of one’s decision to act in accordance with one’s feelings is seen as a blow “against the right of that person to be whoever they wish to be.”
For example, we are told that if one feels oneself to be “a woman trapped in a man’s body,” one should be free to change one’s physical body to align with one’s inner feelings. And society should honor and even celebrate the courage of such an “authentic” person.
Two: We have jettisoned the traditional frameworks by which we have always identified ourselves: nation, religion, family, and geography.
Trueman shows how Reich and Herbert Marcuse have been especially influential in persuading our culture that historical norms and institutions have “restrained” us and kept us from experiencing personal authenticity. Now it is conventional wisdom that such institutions must be repudiated on behalf of sexual, gender, and racial “equality” and replaced with new norms that celebrate personal freedom. Any speech that disagrees or disapproves of this movement is viewed as dangerous to society and worthy of cancelation.
Satan "has blinded the minds of the unbelievers"
It is therefore unsurprising that Twitter and other media platforms would censor speech with which they disagree (ignoring the illogic of being intolerant with the “intolerant”). Or that transgender athletes are hailed as courageous victims (ignoring the athletes against whom they compete so unfairly). Or that abortion would be hailed as a “healthcare” right (ignoring the healthcare of unborn babies).
Christians can expect this narrative to continue and even escalate. As I note in The Coming Tsunami, our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion are more imperiled than at any time in American history.
However, Trueman reminds us that early Christians faced a culture far more antagonistic than ours (so far). Many paid for their faith with their lives. And yet they engaged their antagonists with a positive argument that “Christians made the best citizens, the best parents, the best servants, the best neighbors, the best employees.” Over time, the positive difference Jesus makes in those who follow him fully became obvious, attractive, and empowering.
Paul warned that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Here is how he responded: “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (v. 5).
Whom do you know who has been “blinded” by “the god of this world”?
Whom will you serve “for Jesus’ sake” today?
Publication date: April 8, 2022
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Joice Kelly
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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