Saturday, December 17, 2005
The Story Behind "Disarming the Culture War"
It was a relatively easy process to decide on the format for “Disarming the Culture War.” The sections of the book follow a natural progression through each of the main issues of the Culture War—abortion, gun control, separation of church and state and same-sex marriage. These sections are sandwiched between an introduction to the Culture War and a concluding chapter with recommendations on how concerned citizens can become active participants in the effort to move beyond this divisive stalemate.
The content of “Disarming the Culture War” was also easy to determine. I have felt for many years that hard-core Republicans and Democrats have hijacked their respective party platforms and staked out inflexible positions on these moral issues that do not represent the true sentiments of the majority of Americans. I know for certain that the two major parties do not represent my positions on these issues. I also believe it is clear from the many polls that have been taken concerning these issues that I am far from alone. One of the primary objectives of the book is to show that the stalemate of the Culture War is the product of our two political parties and not the product of an equally divided country. There is no doubt that serious division exists on these four issues, but the nearly equal division that was made manifest in the two most recent presidential elections is not an accurate representation of how the entire electorate feels about these issues. I believe “Disarming the Culture War” will more than adequately make that case.
As a first time author, I readily acknowledge that my credentials will be a significant hurdle to overcome in attracting readers to the book. It would of course be an easier sell if I were an author with an already established media platform or an academic background that seemed relevant to the topic. My reply to any such concerns is to strongly emphasize that this is not an academic topic. As citizens, each of us is expected to reach our own conclusions on the four moral issues of the Culture War. Text books and professors are not consulted as ordinary citizens determine for themselves where they stand on abortion, gun control, gay marriage and separation of church and state. The conclusions reached are quite often based on faith, emotion or intuition and not necessarily supported by a comprehensive logical framework. The success of political commentary is at least partially based on the author’s ability to articulate clearly what his or her audience might already believe but has not had the time or desire to fully articulate. The author is essentially providing a framework of thought for an existing but, perhaps, incomplete belief. In “Disarming the Culture War,” I believe that I have developed a logical and common sense articulation of what many others are already thinking on this subject. The proof of such an assertion can only be determined by readers who pass judgment on the ideas and the manner in which they are expressed in the book.
Clearly not every reader will agree with the conclusions reached in “Disarming the Culture War.” These are difficult and divisive issues. I will consider the book a success if like-minded readers appreciate the common sense framework that can perhaps supplement and support already existing views, and if readers who disagree with the conclusions are motivated to explore their own opinions to more fully understand why we disagree. A more rational dialogue would be good for both sides. Finally, if there are any readers whose opinions on these issues are still malleable, it would be a great privilege to have influenced them to the point of taking a stand, one way or the other.
Aiding and Abetting the Grinch: How the Underdogs Are Stealing Christmas
This Christmas season many Christians are seething over secular attacks on Christmas. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, has enlisted 800 attorneys to handle complaints about “improper attempts to censor the celebration of Christmas in schools and on public property.” The topic is also the subject of a best-seller by the Fox News Channel’s John Gibson: “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.” Gibson indicates that Christian forces fighting to preserve Christmas will battle an opposing army of “secularists, so-called humanists, trial lawyers, cultural relativists and liberal, guilt-wracked Christians.”
The Christian army should easily win this battle. After all, 85 percent of us are Christian, and with hundreds of lawyers manning the trenches, how can non-Christians and secularists possibly prevail? An 85 to 15 margin should ensure certain victory. But in this case, if I were a betting man, I would bet the secular lions once again defeat the Christians in the lion’s den. How? Secularist passion alone doesn’t fully explain how the massive Christian majority goes down in flames every year on this issue. Gibson hit the nail on the head when he enumerated the forces arrayed against Christmas. The last group he enumerated, “liberal, guilt-wracked Christians,” is really the key to understanding the strength of the anti-Christmas forces. Christians have no one to blame but themselves for this relentless march against Christmas. An old and familiar line perfectly describes the situation Christians are in: “We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.”
Why are many Christians so “guilt-wracked?” The source of the guilt is primarily a concern that anything the Christian majority might say or do could offend any of a number of non-Christian minorities. This heightened sensitivity to non-Christian minorities is the product of more than 20 years of national emphasis on diversity in the workplace and the celebration of diversity in all forms of media. I’m not complaining. I think this emphasis on diversity is not only good business, but good, period. However, one of the side effects created by this effort to ensure equality is over-sensitivity to diversity. At times I even get the impression that it’s more than over-sensitivity. It’s more like fear. Conversely, while the majority of the country is retreating out of sensitivity or fear, minorities have been further emboldened to assert their minority causes. The collision of emboldened minorities with an extremely sympathetic and apologetic majority has resulted in strained relations and some unnecessary retreats from common sense.
The stories of retreat are piling up in record numbers and the absurdity of much of the back-pedaling is more than humorous — it’s downright silly. Your local school’s annual Christmas program has likely been replaced by the annual Holiday program. Your local Wal-Mart greeter probably won’t be acknowledging Christmas when you enter the store this year. And the National Christmas Tree has been transformed into the National Holiday Tree. None of these changes are necessary or even advisable. We have allowed them to happen because we are so busy being politically correct that we haven’t thought enough about whether or not it even makes sense.
The current practice of almost always giving-in to a non-Christian minority is often wrong. We can’t promote diversity as long as it comes from the minority on the one hand and then with the other hand suppress the diversity represented by the majority. American principles and law are designed to protect minority rights, but not at the expense of the rights of the majority. The situation is unfortunate because we would all benefit greatly from a more open and honest expression, not only of faith, but of other fundamental beliefs as well. Encouraging free speech is in fact the best way to preserve diversity. The current solution — suppressing the voice of the majority — has exactly the opposite effect. It creates a false sense that diversity is being celebrated, while beneath the surface the majority viewpoint is resentfully suppressed. I hope the Christian majority finds the will to prevail in the battle over Christmas. It would be an indication that both minorities and majorities are respected in America.