The Future of Western Culture –Part 3: Diversity

Welcome Back.

Today:
Thoughts on Diversity
The Top Post of the Day
An Invitation to join me in Miami

The Future of Western Culture –Part 3: Diversity.
Mark Steyn suggests that, as a vanishing culture, western culture should ask the ever important question: “what do you leave behind?” This is a very important question because it assumes a belief that we have something of which we can be proud that should be preserved, a cultural gift to pass on to future humanity, if you will.

That’s the problem “diversity” presents to western culture.

Steyn gives the example of the Kadr family who betrayed their country (Canada) by killing Canadian, American and possibly Pakistani soldiers though their involvement with Al-Qaeda. The youngest son, being paralyzed in the shoot out with Pakistanis returned “home” to Canada and, along with his mother, demanded [vs. begged for] their rights to health care.

Here’s the amazing thing. According to Steyn, Canada’s prime minister took the boy’s claim on health care as “an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his own deep personal commitment to “Diversity.”

Steyn quotes the prime minister: “I believe that once you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to your own views and to disagree.”

If Steyn represents this accurately, the prime minister is an example of a man who’s lost his way…and of a culture that’s lost confidence in itself, and the gifts it offers to the future. The problem with “diversity ” is that it is based on “tolerance”. Tolerance as it is practiced in the west can be defined as being so open minded that your brains fall out.

With all due respect to Al Gore, the health of the environment is not the greatest danger to humanity. Human evil is our greatest threat. Multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance are words too often used to make us feel enlightened while leading us to act foolishly.

What do you think?

————————————

TOP POST OF THE DAY: Mark Hoelterhoff writing from Lithuania

Title: The Church’s New Address

Date of Post: January 14, 2006

Mark, Congratulations on an outstanding post. Everyone should read it for perspective.

———————————–

Join me in Miami. I’m teaching at a Regional Conference in Miami on February 7. For more info and to register click on “MIAMI –regional experience” in the “Pages” frame above to the right. If you or someone you know needs to reload meet me there. Let’s have dinner on South Beach.

Into the Mystic…

Alex McManus

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Future of Western Culture –Part 3: Diversity

  1. I agree with you, Alex. A biblical worldview is key for making sense of the world in which we live and navigating through the peculiarities of our day. Particularly needed is clear thinking about the essence of humanity – the O.T. is clear about the nature of men and women. Although created by God in God’s image and thus born with potential to live on mission for God, to reflect God’s character, and to relate authentically with others, humanity out of its own rebellion is tragically flawed and profoundly lost. This tension between being bearers of the divine imprint and practioners of great evil is what has been lost in Western culture. Western culture has kept vestiges of the former but has swept away a robust doctrine of sin. This leaves cultural elites with the sort of naive ideology that is exemplified by the Canadian prime minister in Steyn’s article.

  2. I agree, with Alex’s initial post and with you, Brian.

    I must point out that Western culture (as recorded in sources once de rigeur for any Western scholar) once did indeed explore and maintain and honor a very strong sense of the tension between being bearers of the divine imprint and practioners of great evil which you mention. The Puritans held this very thing as the core of their understanding of themselves and their world. Puritans were not the only ones in the West who did, either. But at one time (if you read 300-year-old basic-Western-Civ textbooks) the Puritan philosopher/theologian John Owen was considered the greatest Western thinker, widely read by those considered “educated”. Owen majored on the tension between a holy God/humans created in His image, and the exact depths and extent of sin in the human heart and mind… and the resulting tension in the heart of God between justice and mercy, holiness and love, etc.

    Too bad that what is left of “classical Western thought” has indeed lost its ballast (our grasp of our own sin and its horror) and is so easily capsized.

  3. Alex-

    I just finished reading “The Search for God at Harvard” by Ari Goldman. Goldman, an Orthodox Jew, points out that if all religions are true (the foundational belief in pluralism), then none are perfect. The problem with universal tolerance, at its core, is that it disrespects every belief system other than its own. If certain beliefs systems/cultures disagree with one another, to call both of them right is to call both of them imperfect, and in the end, is an insult to both.

  4. I haven’t really posted on any of these “Western Culture” threads yet, because a) I’ve been super-busy with year-end accounting at work and b) I wanted to really think things through before I posted. I will address them all here.

    In Part 1, Peter suggested that violence in the Middle East would be ended if one culture -group had a Christian ethos which precluded their rising up in arms against the other, dominant culture. Logically this seems quite valid; morally, I’m not sure it’s such a hot idea. (I’m not convinced Jesus was thrilled with the fact that his people were subjugated by the Roman empire; he was famous for having little to say to people in positions of power that was not a warning, and still less assistance to give them. He told them to go ahead and pay their taxes, yes. He told them to rejoice if they were persecuted for his name, yes, but not that he would intentionally send them persecution.) And politically, it’s very undemocratic. What about “No taxation without representation?” Where would America be if Patrick Henry had not said, “Give me liberty or give me death”? Now, this is just me, with my Western, individualist, freedom-loving, bo-hunk’s granddaughter, protestant-work-ethic coming into play, but I think at least a few of the revolutions the world has seen were good ones. I love mercy and justice. If a people are brutally subjugated, they should be valued and treated with enough dignity to be freed. If a society looks as though it is headed towards a place where people could easily be subjugated, something must be done to correct the government. A democracy allows for that. I personally like that.

    Also in Part 1, Sam pointed out that the church should not be frightened or intimidated by the growth of Islam. I agree with him. But if Islam spreads throughout Europe, and eventually throughout the world, as it very well could, Christians would not have a particularly bright-looking political and/or economic future. The one thing many Muslim societies seem to have in common, even the relatively peaceful ones, is that if you convert to Christianity, they will kill you. Also, as a woman:

    -I appreciate the right to help choose my government representatives.
    -I enjoy the option of wearing pants or shorts if I want.
    -I’m pleased that I was allowed to learn to read and write.
    -It’s awfully useful to be able to open a bank account and own property in my name.
    -I like knowing that my husband or boyfriend cannot legally beat me.
    -It’s really swell to keep the money that I earn.

    And this brings me to the Question asked by Alex in Part 1: Is Western culture superior to that of Islam? My opinion is that every culture was initially created by people, all of whom were made in the image of God. Therefore, I believe that each culture reflects an aspect of the character of God. Now, some cultures have allowed God more or less influence on their culture. For instance, Western Culture was largely shaped by Christianity.

    That is not say that it is better. It went through its fair share of horrendous scriptural misinterpretation, in my opinion. The crusades would be an example of something I hope is never repeated. There are at least five other major social movements I can think of off the top of my head where Christians used the scriptures to justufy furthering their own agenda at any price. This is plainly immoral.

    But at this time, Western culture seems for the most part, to place a higher value on human life and human rights than Islam does. (It also places a higher value on them than Old Testament Judaism seems to, for what it’s worth.) I like that. The world seems to me a better place when we don’t perpetrate atrocities and keep people subjugated.

    Which brings me to a question Alex posed in Part 3: What is Western Culture leaving behind? I would hope that, if Western Culture is indeed headed the way of the Greek and Roman empires– a few works of literature high school students are forced to read, and some artifacts and buildings of interest only to archaeologists, museum curators, and tourists– that what we would leave behind would be a value for the individual; for their rights, their opinions, and their contributions.

    Oh, dear, all of this makes me sound very anti-Islam. I should probably state here, as a disclaimer, that I live near a large Research One university, and (probably as a result of that) I know some very nice Muslims. I like them a lot. I live in the same neighborhood with them without any fear. Very few of them are prone to violence or pro-Palestine agitating. Some of them have received threats from Jewish people living and studying in our area, which makes me very angry. Just for what it’s worth.

  5. Let’s make a few changes to the prime ministers comments, but not change his actions.

    Instead of:
    “I believe that once you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to you own views and to disagree.”

    How about:
    “As a Christian country, we are asked to love one another by our Lord. In spite of our deep disagreement with your actions, we will take care of you. We will wash your wounds, and bring you back to health”. (echos of the good samaritan)

    Dan

  6. Dan,

    Good point. I agree. May I append, “…after which, you will be submitted to due process of our nation’s judicial system.” After all, if a person lives in a society, then by social contract theory they have agreed to the laws of the land. One law of the land is the healthcare system; another is the judicial system itself. And it would be remiss of the nation’s government to have so much mercy on a few individuals that it leaves the rest of its citizens at the mercy of those few individuals.

    Let us not forget that the other citizens’ tax dollars are paying for the healthcare of people who tried to kill them. Good thing it was the West they were attacking and not an Islamic nation; the Islamic nation just would’ve killed them. It makes one think of the novel, “The Mouse That Roared,” where, in the 1950s, a tiny nation called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick got into financial trouble and decided that the best way out of it would be to declare war on America; after all, America would beat them, and America always spends lots and lots of money rebuilding a nation they have defeated. (A philosophy which I wholly support, I might add; of course we should help them rebuild. I only wish that I, personally, could help with the effort. It is not your average Iraqi’s fault that Saddam Hussein pissed off America. But it’s not without its own brand of ironic, tongue-in-cheek humor.)

  7. I agree wholeheartily with Mel’s addition (you’ll be subject to due process)

    Love, but don’t forget the consequences of one’s actions, as you will have them.

  8. Hey Alex,

    I’m doing great! Thanks for thinking about me. I am really excited about being a part of vox … seems like a good fit for my bloggins style … as for your post on diversity, I agree with you. Perhaps the Prime Minister should have taken the opportunity to condemn the acts of violence and treason while offering medical support, rather than shower praise on insanity and evil.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s