Changing Twitter to X and $4,000 sorority consultants: When perception becomes reality

Changing Twitter to X and $4,000 sorority consultants: When perception becomes reality July 26, 2023

Elon Musk has announced that Twitter’s product name is being changed to X and that he is getting rid of the bird logo and all the associated words, including tweet. According to analysts and brand agencies, the move wiped out anywhere between $4 billion and $20 billion in value.

Speaking of brand value, the Wall Street Journal reports that parents are now hiring $4,000 sorority consultants to help their daughters dress and impress during rush. The article explains that getting into sororities has become nearly as competitive as acceptance to top universities. Such consultants advise their clients on what to wear, how to act, what to say, and the wisdom of scrubbing potentially off-putting social media posts.

Meanwhile, Gallup tells us that the share of US adults who are “extremely proud” to be American sits at 39 percent, essentially unchanged from last year’s 38 percent record low and down 31 percent from its high of 70 percent in 2003. The share of young adults who are “extremely proud” to be American has especially plummeted to 18 percent today. Americans fifty-five and older are nearly three times more likely to be extremely proud of their nationality than younger generations.

As political consultant Lee Atwater succinctly noted, “Perception is reality.” When shifting perceptions cost us billions of dollars or enhance our social standing, they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This fact is especially relevant to the future of our nation in ways that may not be obvious to you but are no less urgent.

“What America needed was a deep reckoning”

Cultural scholar Walter Russell Mead recently and perceptively explained the narrative that fuels many young Americans’ resentment of their country. In this telling, America is a nation founded on “the atrocities of slavery, the destruction of indigenous peoples, the economic exploitation of poor people and immigrants, [and] the failure to offer equal opportunities to women.”

In addition, our traditional sexual morality was “deeply immoral” in that “it repressed women, subjected sexual minorities to cruel persecution, and blighted human freedom and creativity by confining the expression of human sexuality to a rigid and primitive code.” The result was a “new synthesis, one that found its voice among the so-called woke. America’s traditional political code was a thinly disguised cover for a society based on white supremacy and economic exploitation. Traditional American morality was simply the organized oppression of women and minorities in the service of a hierarchical patriarchy.

“What America needed was a deep reckoning with its problematic past, followed by a radical turn toward an entirely different future.”

If none of this is familiar to you, you are probably not a young adult educated in a public or elite private university where this narrative is conventional wisdom. In this view, evangelical Christians, with our defense of biblical sexuality and popularity among older white Americans, are especially part of the problem and dangerous to the solution.

For people who subscribe to this narrative, perception quickly becomes reality. They do not attend our worship services or live by biblical morality as we understand it. And so, because our faith is viewed as irrelevant to their lives, it becomes so.

Four practical responses

How should you and I respond?

In his last letter before his martyrdom, the apostle Paul encouraged his protégé and son in the faith:

Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:22–26).

Here we can identify four practical principles that should guide our engagement with our anti-Christian culture.

One: Seek Christlike character and community with like-minded believers. As we noted yesterday, imitating Christ as he imparts his character to us by his Spirit is essential to living biblically and redemptively.

Two: Refuse to engage in “controversies” and “quarrels.” Billy Graham learned many years ago not to respond to personal insults, choosing to focus on preaching the gospel rather than the distraction of constantly defending himself from those who disagreed with his message. We should follow his example.

Three: Respond to evil with kindness, instruction in the truth, patience, and gentleness. Our critics may still reject our message, but they will be marked by the love of its messengers.

Four: Seek the best for those who oppose us. I often quote John Stonestreet’s observation that “bad ideas have victims.” According to Paul, people who reject God’s word are in “the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” They need our compassion and intercession.

“Our hope is in no other save in thee”

The moral and spiritual awakening our nation desperately needs is beyond your capacities and mine. But it is not beyond the transforming power and grace of our Father. So, let’s close today by making John Calvin’s prayer of assurance and encouragement ours:

Our hope is in no other save in thee;
Our faith is built upon thy promise free;
O grant to us such stronger hope and sure
That we can boldly conquer and endure.

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