[ Some notes based on a book I’m reading. I want to see how much any of this makes sense, and writing it out might help. ]
In America, belonging to a religiona community of worship, defined by individual faith commitmentsis the only acceptable way to be different.
We have, especially in the past, been eager to look for racial differences, but we have also seen race as a matter of inferiority and superiority. We pretend class does not exist. We tend to think of gender differences as natural or God-given.
We are usually suspicious of ethnic differences. People should assimilate. We do not like deeper forms of political difference. American politics provides a notoriously narrow range of options. In public and business life, we want a dependable sort of sameness we expect from our strip malls and chain restaurants. We enforce sameness with “diversity” policieswe “celebrate difference” and congratulate ourselves for allowing everyone to do the same sort of jobs in the same sort of cubicles, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity.
To the extent that all this is true, I don’t entirely mind it. By and large, I’m against tight-knit communities. But it could also mean that religion is too important a component of the way we lie to ourselves to lose vitality any time soon. It’s too socially useful, even in an ultramodern, thoroughly marketized society such as the United States.