Brian Jones wonders if our well-documented loneliness in America is connected to our democratic experiment—where the emphasis on individuality is pronounced and where moving away from one's family and community is considered a sign of maturity. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted:
Aristocracy links everybody, from peasant to king, in one long chain. Democracy breaks the chain. … Each man is thereby thrown back on himself alone, and there is a danger that he may be shut up in the solitude of his own heart.
According to Tocqueville's observation, the shift from aristocratic to democratic conditions is not merely a change of political forms. Democracy produces a set of psychological and even imaginative changes that cause democratic citizens to see themselves in a new way. The novel manner thus described is one in which citizens gradually come to view themselves as separated and cut off. The displacement from nature, family, place, and intergenerational bonds that once held citizens together is what gives rise to a democratic society.
Can we mitigate this phenomenon at this point in our history? Social media, which promised to bring us together, has only made things worse. Can the church help our society here? Or is it caught in the same web of assumptions that democracy brings with it?
Too Much #MeToo?
For a few weeks now, I've been reading the more histrionic attacks on the #MeToo phenomenon. While I often have agreed with the substance, I thought the rhetoric over the top, so I didn't bother to link. Then came the open letter signed by a hundred French women objecting to the campaign, and now Andrew Sullivan pens an essay with a reasoned and balanced call for resisting the excesses of the movement, of which there have been not a few. As he notes,
Any presumption of innocence [has been] regarded as a misogynist dodge, and an anonymous online list of accusations against named men in the media was created and circulated with nary an attempt by its instigators to substantiate a single one. Within a few weeks, the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.
As he and others have noted, the cause of #MeToo is good and righteous—and that's precisely what makes overreach so tempting. The comparisons to McCarthyism and the Salem witch trials are unfortunately apropos, as mere accusation has become proof of guilt, with the resulting destruction of innocent lives (the problem that most concerns Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale). As history shows, Christians are particularly tempted to turn a good cause into fanaticism precisely because we care so much about righteousness. At such times, we of all people should be especially wary as we rightly attempt to protect anyone who is subject to exploitation of any kind.
An article on why evangelicals are taken with a doctrine of the atonement that some find troubling, by yours truly.
A podcast that looks into the threats to Christians who might be forced to return to El Salvador.
A video that reminds us that those made in the image of the Creator like to create beautiful worlds of their own, like the man who has spent years building a Boeing 777 out of paper.
Grace and peace,
Friday, January 19, 2018
Too Much #MeToo?