Works of Piety, Seattle Style

It’s a bit of a caricature, but there’s a fair amount of truth here too:

In Seattle, the real problem with the Democratic Party, is that it’s way too conservative. In Seattle, you signal your allegiance to the flag by keeping the latest copy of The Stranger perched on the corner of your office desk — just slightly askew, as if you’ve recently been leafing through it. In Seattle, you know exactly what Dan Savage said in his latest sex and relationships advice column. In Seattle, you listen to All Things Considered — on public radio KPLU-FM — like it’s the holy call to prayer. In other words, in Seattle, “Did you read it?” is a way of life. A daily set of Starbucks-fueled rituals, all conducted in the name of being “up” on the latest expectations and dispensations — from various fonts of progressive intellectual haute couture.

Every subculture has its little tricks for signaling to everybody around you that you are a Good Person.  All you have to do is figure out what the conventions are and then subtly draw people’s attention to the fact that you observe their pieties.  Here it’s stuff like making sure your Obama sticker  and rainbow flag carefully applied to your Prius, and that everybody knows you recycle and support the library.  In other places, it’s a gun rack prominently mounted on your suburban assault vehicle.  To all such virtue signaling, the Tradition offers the same warning:

Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. (Mt 6:1–2).

Break the Conventions.  Keep the commandments. – G.K. Chesterton

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