In spite of all my best efforts to avoid watching clips of that young lady coming unglued at the UN, Matt playing it over and over meant that I did end up seeing it after all. Fortunately, however, I had just read this really excellent article, which helped me find some sane framework to put around such a distressing spectacle. The article is not about climate change. It is about Drag Queen Story Time. It’s by someone commenting on the ongoing debate between David French and Sohrab Ahmari, which I also haven’t really been paying attention to. The question, it seems, is how far and in what manner should Christians engage in the public square as Christians, especially in legal matters. What battles should Christians be fighting? Which should they leave alone and not worry about? These are important questions and truly, I had better go back and read all the posts, whenever I manage to find the time.
As a parent, though, I must say that I find what amounts to be the exploitation of vulnerable young people to be grotesque. The trend of making children and young people into activists, in the hope of moving the political discourse one way or another, is really cowardly.
If adults want to live out their lives as drag queens, that is one matter. I don’t think they should, but that is the sort of thing that two adult people can discuss between each other, especially in the public square where such debates are meant to be undertaken. Gathering a lot of young children to be read a story by a drag queen is not the kind of thing you do if you are trying to engage intellectually and philosophically with your peers over a pressing issue. You do it because you don’t want to talk any more, you just want everybody to be quiet and approve of your choices.
Similarly, sending children and young people into the front line of the climate change debate means that you don’t want it to be a debate, you don’t want to use reason and science to make your case, you just want everyone to stop thinking and sign their names to whatever it is. Like some modern Children’s Crusade, which no sane person looks into the past and commends, we have lost our collective will to talk about the pressing issues of globalism and the environment. Calculated and irresponsible panic has taken the place of respectful discourse. And then we wonder why the mental health of children is such a catastrophe.I just read about Naboth’s Vineyard this morning, and I was struck, yet again, by the petulance of Ahab, in not getting what he wanted. The lust of his eyes and the desires of his heart eclipsed the true inheritance of one of the sons of Israel. He shuffled into his room, refused his dinner, and “turned his face to the wall.” He wife came along to soothe his brow and comfort him. She proffered the cold and sickening comfort of arranging yet another old testament picture of the crucifixion of Jesus. The lines are haunting—‘set Naboth at the head of the people;’ ‘let them bring a charge saying, “You have cursed God and the king;” ‘take him out and stone him.’
Ahab—a second Cain really—wanted to make a vegetable garden out of Naboth’s precious vineyard. Wander around the Bible and see that every Vineyard is Israel, that God comes into his own field to look at his vines, his own grapes, and they are wild, rebellious, rotten.
Of course, the earth doesn’t belong to us. We are stewards of it and have mismanaged, from the first moment of the trust, what God had given to us for care for. We ought to repent and turn around and plead for mercy—about everything. Exploiting our children, exploiting the land, setting fire to it, crushing the poor, making ourselves rich at the expense of others, disobeying God, killing millions of babies, socially experimenting on the gendered lives of children and teenagers, racism, everything. The last thing we should do is double down to some political or economic position and send our children out to shut down what little reasonable conversation might still be had.
Surprisingly, at the end of that chapter, Ahab repents in sackcloth and ashes and God forgives him. Naboth is dead, and much later, Jesus will be falsely accused and hung up on a tree, cursed in the place of all those who curse him. If you but cry out in the agony of repentance, you can be forgiven because his blood is strong enough to heal you, and ultimately to restore the earth to its true and perfect state.