The '60s Made Life Harder, and More Just

I can see why people are upset. Far from advocating for any of the more prickly parts of the LGBT question such as gay marriage or sexual morality, the ad and the organization behind it, encourage churches simply to welcome gay people into their presence. I've never heard anyone suggest that churches should close their doors to gay people, so it seems unreasonable that a progressive organization like Sojourners wouldn't gladly place the ad on their site.

On the other hand, the point from Jim Wallis and Tim King, Sojourners communication director, who actually published the video as part of his blog post on the controversy, was that such a contentious issue—not just the acceptance aspect of it—is too big to present as an advertisement. They both point to many instances in which they have spoken out editorially about issues such as bullying, DADT, and Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill.

On a more practical level, Sojourners reaches a wide audience, particularly within evangelicalism, and, around this contentious issue they do not want to alienate those readers. Inadvertently, they alienated another large swath of their audience when they rejected the ad. This is reflected in the numerous blog posts and articles, not to mention the user-generated comment strings that accompany them.

I wish Sojourners had chosen to run the ad, but this all proves that there's nothing easy about trying to be progressive. Banishing hardship is not the legacy of the '60s. Rather, it would seem, hardship is. A friend and I were joking recently about the outrage that came from "carnival barkers" (yes, carnival barkers) in response to President Obama's use of the term in a derogatory reference to those that insisted he produce his birth certificate. Apparently, actual carnival barkers, who prefer to be called "talkers," took offense to being equated with birthers in general, and Donald Trump in particular, and are voicing their displeasure.

This, I suggested to my friend, is where a progressive society leads. On the one hand, we can understand their complaint. Who would want to be equated with birthers, or who would want to have their identity used as a pejorative? On the other hand, my friend said, get over it; acknowledge that the president was using a particular parlance and did not mean any offense to actual "talkers."

This is where we live. It is our responsibility to ask difficult questions, to consider the feelings of others, even if we've never even thought about them before. Olasky's final point that "The 1960s were a search for instant gratification," is absolutely true of some aspects of that important time of change, but anybody with any foresight could plainly see that welcoming more people to the table, assuring that they are all treated with dignity and respect, and that their needs are met in equal portion to those around them, was never meant to be easy. It was just meant to be right.

At the end of High Fidelity, Rob realizes that living in the past and laboring over his mistakes and heartbreaks isn't going to help him in his current relationship unless he applies the lessons he learned. In the end, he reconciles with Laura, his girlfriend, and though they both know it won't be easy going forward, they commit to making it work.

In the closing pages of the book, Laura elucidates one of the hardships they will be forced to face: "I don't care whether you want kids or not. I do, I know that, but I don't know whether I want them with you, and I don't know whether you want them at all. I've got to sort that out for myself. I'm just trying to wake you up."

If you believe that progressivism is an attempt to banish hardship, when making life fairer and more just for everyone is actually much harder than the alternative, you, like Rob, may need to wake up.

5/10/2011 4:00:00 AM
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    About Jonathan Fitzgerald
    Jonathan D. Fitzgerald is the managing editor of, and writes on the various manifestations of Christianity in culture. Follow him on Twitter or at his website,