by Mike Halpin —
The current narrative being advanced by those on the ideological left is that the majority of Americans have been asleep, or maybe sleepwalking, socially speaking. Like Neo in The Matrix, what we thought was reality was in fact a dream. The general assumption that Americans of all stripes were free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in a society as just as fallen humanity can reasonably supply has been determined to be a dream, a fabrication, a lie from which we must be saved.
Enter our social saviors, the woke purveyors of fully awake social justice. The claims of this alert elect are vast, deep, and wide, and what follows is not a broad analysis or a deep defense of alternative views, but a brief summary on some of the important points. Here’s to being truly aware, alert, and alive.
The dynamics regarding wokeness in our culture look an awful lot like the reeducation performed under Mao in China a generation ago.
The communists were the new priesthood/proletariat. They defined what was holy and what taboo and deficient. They required confession of sin from individuals, which really meant agreeing with everything they said. They required individuals to indict or accuse others to purge the body politic of any and all who weren’t saying the same things about the new way forward.
Wokeness assumes justice is possible in the same world and system that crucified Jesus; this is an impossibility at a notable scale. Justice in any ultimate sense can only be defined by God and can only be brought about by God. All systems of justice and attempts at justice are necessarily partial, incomplete, and imperfect. See Thomas Sowell’s The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999).
What one group may call justice may be seen by another group as injustice; think of abortion. Pro-abortionists believe killing unborn children represents justice while pro-lifers believe abortion to be anathema to justice. Until Jesus rules, who defines justice and by what criteria? Those holding dissenting views will always be crying “injustice” to the larger cultural morality.
Cultures are an irreducible component of any identifiable group. In the large sense culture is not necessarily and inherently good or bad, but part of the outlook, priorities, and means of expression a group has come to over a period of time. In this large sense culture is amoral. (Morality informs culture but not all components of culture are inherently and equally moral: types of food, styles of housing, etc.)
It’s possible to appreciate varying cultures without having to pit one against another.
Some cultures will be dominant to others. This could be through conquest, assimilation, or simply through numeric representation. To say a culture is dominant is not to make a moral determination but a descriptive one. A dominant culture may be more or less moral, but its dominance isn’t inherently a moral question or attribute.
A person from another/minority culture living in a dominant culture will have to, by necessity, and to one degree or another, accommodate the greater culture in order to live within it. This isn’t a moral issue but a practical one.
A person from the dominant culture is no more responsible to be aware of all the particularities and life experiences of a minority culture in order to live justly and morally than a person from a minority culture is to know the particularities of every other minority culture.
The Church, as the real Body of Christ in the world, and in whatever geography and culture any portion of the Church is located, is by definition a minority group and culture within the larger cultural setting it inhabits. (It might be argued that the professing Church was the dominant culture in some times and places past—thinking of Europe and Geneva specifically—but those settings are anomalies, and the professing Church groups were clearly larger than the real Body of Christ.)
The Church may, through love of God and neighbor, seek to influence the dominant culture toward greater morality, but it does so as a minority influence. The Church is not the dominant culture, doesn’t speak for the dominant culture, and can’t be held responsible for the dominant culture.
Christ calls his own to love their neighbor, not a culture, be it their own or another. Individuals can do right by and can live justly with other individuals, but they don’t have influence or power to do so to “cultures.”
All cultures are temporary expressions of fallen humanity’s tastes, values, desires, and preferences. Only when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ will any/all cultures be able to reflect true justice, as well as every other expression of God’s goodness in the varied arenas of life God has blessed his image bearers with.