Re: the Zeitgeist and repressive tolerance

07 Mar
Herbert Marcuse, just ahead of his time.

Herbert Marcuse, just ahead of his time.

Rod Dreher has an important post up reflecting on what will increasingly be happening to Christians in the Brave New World that is approaching us.  Just a clip from the end of the post (the “update”):

“I heard from a pastor this morning who said a parishioner approached him last week to ask his advice. His parishioner said that a colleague in his workplace is openly gay, and keeps pestering him to declare his views on same-sex marriage. The parishioner is a traditional Christian who doesn’t believe in SSM, but he also doesn’t believe the workplace is where this sort of thing should be discussed. The parishioner just wants to get on with his work, but the colleague, who is in a semi-supervisory capacity, won’t let it drop. The parishioner said that the climate in his workplace — a business that has nothing to do with marriage or social issues — has shifted to where one is expected to declare one’s support for SSM, or be suspected of harboring hateful views. The parishioner just wants to be left alone, but he doesn’t want to be accused of being ashamed of his religious views. He wanted to know what he should do.

This is coming. What is wrong with policing a work colleague’s behavior, not his thoughts? If the parishioner were treating gay colleagues disrespectfully or otherwise unjustly, then sanction him. And if not, what business is it of anybody’s if he’s guilty of thoughtcrime?”

As anyone reading this blog regularly knows, I am currently doing a lot of reflection on culture and technology for an upcoming presentation.  During my reading, I have dipped back into C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man.  Here is a sample of the harrowing stuff from there:

“what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument… For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means… the power of some men to make other men what they please…. If man chooses himself as raw material to be manipulated, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his dehumanized Conditioners” (67, 70, 80)

Read all this in conjunction with this other post from Dreher, which shares a rather frightful, but unsurpising, piece recently published in the Harvard Crimson (that is their student newspaper).  A clip:

Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

Everyone has always known that, but now, as the winds blow a particular way, more people can start to say that (like Marcuse, ahead of his time, tried to do in 1965 but failed).

And… there is the Ross Douthat piece that everyone is talking about, The Terms of Our Surrender –

In it he says:

I am being descriptive here, rather than self-pitying. Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.) So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution.

Douthat is brilliant, but I don’t think he should have said that.  That, it seems to me, is called “a green light”.

And how might technology fit into all of this?  I have one word that I think gets to the bottom of that: “enhancement” – whether for good or ill.

A quote I recently came across in the new book The Second Machine Age:

“The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

But fear not little flock, for Christ has overcome the world.  Your many sins have been forgiven, and the second death shall not touch you.  Hallelujah indeed!

Go in peace – yes real, eternal peace – and serve the Lord.  Onward.

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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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