American rationalism and individualism

Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in the early days of the republic, was one of the most perceptive and prophetic observers of American culture.  He’s often misinterpreted, though, which Daniel Schwindt tries to address in a fascinating essay about what the French nobleman was really saying about religion in America.  (Thanks to Daniel Broaddus for putting me on to this.)

After the jump, an excerpt about how American’s rationalism leads to an unhealthy individualism and to a distorted version of Christianity.

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Most important historical development of 2013

I would say that the most important historical development of 2013, the one that will prove most pivotal and culturally significant , is the Supreme Court decision casting out the Defense of Marriage law, which, along with various other court decisions and state laws, threw the door completely open for same-sex marriage.  Never in all of human history and never in the wide diversity of human cultures, including those that have been most open to homosexuality, have men married men or women married women.  Just as a matter of history and anthropology, the new legal and social acceptance of gay marriage is revolutionary and unprecedented.

What else happened in 2013 that you think historians of the next century will study?  (That will not necessarily be the same as the “top news stories,” since historians are more interested in the big picture.)

 

You are not allowed to disapprove of gay sex

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson was not accused of mistreating gay people, nor of interfering with their freedom to have sex as they please, nor did he say anything against gay marriage.  He said that the physiology of gay sex is “illogical” and quoted 1 Corinthians.  For that he lost his job.

Those who disapprove of gay sex need to realize that if they say anything about it, any aspirations they may have to public office are probably doomed and they may even lose their livelihoods.

This has to be one of the biggest moral and cultural turnarounds in history.  Just a few years ago,  homosexuals were closeted, lest they risk their jobs and reputation.  Now, evidently, Christians and others who hold traditional moral beliefs are going to have to hide them in the closet.

Some will say, turn around is fair play.  But just switching who is mistreated does not further the cause of tolerance and freedom. [Read more...]

Post-Christian vs. non-Christian

“Post-Christian” does not mean the same as “non-Christian,” observes John O’Sullivan.  A “post-Christian” society is one that seeks to maintain the cultural legacy of Christianity–such as human rights, benevolence, the institution of the family–after the religious beliefs that created and supported this legacy have been abandoned.  In their place, post-Christian societies try to substitute laws, regulations, bureaucracies, and secular ideologies, all of which fall short.

The British journalist develops these ideas in an address to the Transatlantic Christian Council in Brussels, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more...]

Baby Boomers agonistes

It’s almost too easy to make fun of us Baby Boomers.  But satirist P. J. O’Rourke, who is one,  has a book coming out in January entitled   The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again).  An excerpt printed in the Wall Street Journal had me grudgingly laughing:

We are the generation that changed everything. Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression—on ourselves. That’s an important accomplishment, because we’re the generation that created the self, made the firmament of the self, divided the light of the self from the darkness of the self, and said, “Let there be self.” If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you may have noticed this yourself. [Read more...]

What’s the matter with kids these days?

My former student Brett Harris shows that he was paying attention when our literature class studied irony.  But notice his overall point:

Young people have absolutely NOTHING to offer. The sooner they realize this and stop trying to do grownup stuff the better for everyone.

For example, this 13-year-old girl got so overwhelmed visiting a neonatal unit in Kenya that she ran outside and passed out!

LET’S FACE IT: Young people are too incompetent and irresponsible to make a difference in the world. They should focus on staying entertained and out of the way.

Unfortunately, this girl didn’t learn her lesson the first time. [Read more...]


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