I liked the show and I respect and appreciate what Richard Mouw had to say about differences and civility. This is a man who lives his faith, and takes the all of the mandates of his religious tradition seriously. But I do feel as if you both ignored the elephant in the room. Or, more accurately, you saw the elephant, acknowledged its presence, and decided to talk about something else.
Prop 8 aside, I really don't hear much talk about gay marriage these days. I hear talk about "second amendment solutions". I hear how our president is Hitler. I hear how the US government has joined forces with Muslims to destroy our very way of life. It makes me long for the days when liberals were merely French-speaking gay Hollywood abortionists.
I believe that the current Islamophobic hysteria is less about religion than it is about culture and security. Muslims are portrayed as The Other, who, along with illegal immigrants, college professors, and Barak Obama, seek to destroy us. There are of course elements of religious warfare here, but I don't think many can articulate what it is that Muslims believe and how their beliefs threaten Christians.
I want to believe that this is just the death rattle of the violent and destructive strain of our culture that rears it ugly head in times of crisis. I hope that it is about to scream itself hoarse, and then fall silent forever. And it very well may. But what harm will it do in the meanwhile?
I admit I don't watch TV news (or really much TV at all), but this does not sound like strident religious fundamentalism of 2004. It is darker and more sinister. I felt some real hope, between 2008 and August 2009 (the summer of the Death Panels), that we had finally put that conflict to rest. That, yes, there were differences but there were enough serious people, interested in solving problems, that we could find a way forward. That the culture wars were more or less over, that civility could find its way back to the town square. But now, the culture wars of which you and Mouw spoke seem like quaint little disagreements between people who had different levels of comfort with sexuality. Is anyone really talking about sexuality now?
There are many of us in what used to pass as the center-left who supported Barak Obama's candidacy, much to the dismay of our more liberal friends, precisely because we believed him to be the best hope for defusing the polarization that has been the dominant political narrative in my adult life (I'm mid-40's). And for a while that seemed to be true. But we overestimated our country. When President Obama's words and actions do not fit the narrative that the enemies of fairness and progress have tried to construct, they resorted to the measure of last resort, his Otherness. And that seems to be sticking. How perfectly naive of us to imagine otherwise. I've taken the Obama sticker off of my car, not because I no longer support or believe in the President, but because I don't want to be run off the road by someone who chooses to define themselves by their rage, fear and resentment.
I don't wish to take Being to task for not being on the front lines of this battle. I am not even disappointed that this particular show did not Go There-it had tremendous value, and meaning for me, and several great moments (Mouw on bearing false witness, for example-brilliant and beautiful). But we can not talk about civility until we acknowledge that right now, at this truly perilous moment in history, the conversation is dominated by those who would rather burn the country to the ground than compromise with people like you and me, and Richard Mouw, for that matter.
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