Fear of the working class

616px-AlfredPalmerRamagosaThe editor of a liberal website has written about a plumber he had called to fix his drain.  The plumber acted professionally and did the job.  But he spoke with a Southern accent!  He didn’t seem upset about the election!  He might even have voted for Trump!  The editor described his fear at having a possible Trump voter in his home.

All this fear talk about Trump has me confused.  I can see a generalized fear about the future of the country, but this is far more visceral.  Gay people say how afraid they are–but Trump is all for gay marriage, transgender rights, and the LGBT cause!   Jews are afraid–but Trump’s son-in-law and main advisor is an Orthodox Jew, he has appointed a hard-core Zionist to be ambassador to Israel, and his foreign policy is going to be far more pro-Israel than Obama’s.

These irrational fears seem to be phobias.  Reynolds, who reported the plumber story and a number of similar examples in a USA Today article excerpted after the jump, calls it oikophobia, fear of one’s countrymen.  C. R. Wiley, whose post alerted me to this article and whose comments are worth reading in themselves, says it is androphobia, the fear of masculine men.

Those syndromes may be factors, but I see this problem as a pathological form of classism–bigotry against people of a lower social class than yourself.  Classism used to be a taboo like racism, with which it has lots of similarities, but no more.

The working class used to be the base of the American left and the Democratic party.  Ironically, this phobia or classism of today’s liberals against the working class was arguably what elected Donald Trump, as Democrats wrote off industrial states like Wisconsin in order to pursue millennials, techies, and other cool people.

The left has come a long way from “workers of the world unite!” to the fear of plumbers.  At least there is little danger today of a Communist revolution.  Today’s left has become far too bourgeois. [Read more…]

Luther’s influence on German culture

Luther-Catechism-1560-LeipzigThe Economist has a fascinating article on “How Martin Luther has shaped Germany for half a millennium.”

I’m not sure how accurate it is.  (Luther’s moralism?  For the person who insisted that salvation is by grace through faith, rather than good works?  Well, maybe so.  Maybe this is evidence that an emphasis on faith really does bear fruit in good works.  But “dour,” for the most uproarious of theologians?  “Lutheran socialism,” finding the origin of the northern European welfare state in Luther’s neighbor-centered view of vocation?)

But that Luther influenced Germany’s love of music, emphasis on education, love of books, work ethic, etc., rings true.

UPDATE:  Note the critique of this article by German journalist and confessional Lutheran Uwe Siemon-Netto in a recorded interview on Issues, Etc. (HT:  Jeremiah Oehlerlich & Carl Vehse)

[Read more…]

Actors vs. Trump

Meryl_Streep_At_The_2014_SAG_Awards_(12024455556)_(cropped)Meryl Streep took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes to give a blistering speech against president-elect Donald Trump.  See Mollie Hemingway’s critique of her speech.

Now actors have the same right as all other citizens to criticize their public officials.  This, along with other recent “public service” spots featuring actors and their political causes, does raise another issue:  acting outside of one’s vocation.
Actors have the vocation of effectively speaking lines written by someone else.  (It has always bothered me that actors get all of the attention in Hollywood, while those who write the scripts that they recite remain largely unknown by the public.)  They generally have no particular expertise in other areas, yet they regularly testify at Congressional hearings on a wide range of non-acting topics. [Read more…]

Living under the law

3619878820_a375c3f2ca_mMore from David Zahl., who distinguishes between the big-L “Law” (of God) and the little-l “law” that people today try, futilely, to live by. . . .

The latter too is a sign of how people today are obsessed with justifying themselves, even though they can’t.   We need to point them to the justification they can have, freely, through Christ.

I would add that those of us who have that justification should remember it more and should apply it when we ourselves fall into these syndromes of perfectionism and the busyness that Zahl analyzes.

[Read more…]

Justification and contemporary culture

15692653361_7e7cf1101b_zLuther-influenced Anglican David Zahl has a brilliant article in the latest Christianity Today about Luther’s distinction between Law and Gospel and his understanding of justification by faith.  These teachings, Zahl shows, go to the very heart of what people are most struggling with today in contemporary culture:  perfectionism, the need for approval, and the futility of self-justification.

These are all symptoms of living under the law–if not God’s law, the other laws that we try to replace it with–and the new high-tech information environment only makes the symptoms worse.  (Zahl quotes a friend saying, “The internet is like the real world, only with all the forgiveness vacuumed out.”)

Luther’s breakthrough, that we do not have to justify ourselves–that is, attain perfection, or try to convince ourselves and other people that we are right and good–but that Christ justifies us, is as liberating today as it was 500 years ago.

[Read more…]

Empire of Desire

CiceroI have long said that we shouldn’t look for analogies between our cultural problems and the fall of the Roman empire.  We should look for parallels with the fall of the Roman Republic.  Carl Trueman says that while the position of Christianity is changing, secular society itself is changing too.  He sees the rise of what he calls an “empire of desire” (a concept also treated by R. R. Reno, whom he links to).  He calls for new Ciceroes who have the integrity, the wisdom, and the eloquence to defend our Republic and to resist the Imperial temptations.

I would just add that while the rise of globalism and American internationalism have the flavor of Empire, the resurgent nationalist movements (Trump, Brexit, the European nationalist parties) would seem to resist Empire.  Don’t they?  Or does the over all authority of “desire” undermine less centralized republics also? [Read more…]