Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why We Have So Much Trouble in the Culture War? We Have No Culture

Colin at the Theology of Dad complains about using his theologian's brain to have to write about a homosexual cartoon character.

He has the right to feel this way.

He feels he must write about it to show what is wrong with it.

A friend writes to console him:

I read your most recent blog post (about the "gay" "viking"). I can appreciate the frustration of having your intellectual formation and then having to deal with this nonsense. But I think there is another way to look at this: There are a number of reasons the "gay rights" movement has been successful, but here are just two:

1. They have managed to very effectively use the media

2. Catholics have not been able to articulate a coherent and persuasive response

We need guys with PhD's writing about the gay viking so that an intelligent response can be heard.

It is something of a travesty that a PhD has to write about this stuff.

The thing is: we don't have many people doing it. So it ends up being the theologian doing it.

And the reason he ends up doing it is that we have no culture.

I feel like Lord Durham condemning the French Canadians of Lower Canada: sans culture, ni histoire.

That's us, people.

It's not just about having good arguments, although they are important.

The thing is, we leech off the greater culture. The greater culture wants nothing to do with us, insults our faith and corrupts our children, but we insist on watching the latest blockbusters, and follow the doings of the latest celebrities.

The greater culture slaps us in the face, and we get right back up and they do it again.

But we cannot live without culture. We need movies, and books, and celebrities and story-telling. We leech off the mainstream culture that hates us because we have no viable alternative.

Who are our writers, our filmmakers, our actors and comedians?

Most people don't adopt values through arguments. They adopt values because of story-telling.

It's really stories that will convert the mass of the people, not arguments.

Pro-lifers are very busy people. Typically, they're busy raising their kids.

They don't get together to share stories, or engage in some cultural exercise. The culture war is entirely about converting those outside.

They never get together for the sheer joy of being together, sharing their experiences, sharing their artistic productions.

Everything pro-life has to have an agenda completely aimed at the mainstream.

The thing is, that's not how people come to understand a political issue.

They see feminists doing this, gays doing that, and they read about it, or participate in it themselves.

They see a movie with a gay character in it and they think (unconsciously) hey, gay people are okay.

If we're too busy being activists all of the time, people will never know who we are and what we think. They will never know our struggles. They will never understand-- viscerally-- what our fight is about.

So if we don't create our own culture, our own narratives, outsiders don't have a safe means to enter and explore our mental world. They won't feel what we feel.

And the truth is, we don't value what we feel. We don't value our experience. Perhaps that's a virtue. But it means that others won't understand where we are coming from. An argument is not the same thing as an experience.

And so a theologian must explain what is wrong with a gay cartoon, instead of our own cultural writers doing it, or (even better)  instead of one our own animators showing why homofascism is dumb.

This is the crux we have trouble in the Culture War.