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I understand that I do not understand:

--How this country seems to have fallen off a cliff called common sense and rationality in just 12 months.

--How anyone can argue with a straight face that abortion is about “women’s healthcare” and that boys/men “identifying” as girls/women and playing girls/women’s sports does no harm to girls/women.

--Why people trash American ideals when their freedom, opportunity, education, general well-being provided by these ideals enables them to do what they’re doing.

--How what once was considered sexual exploitation of women is now featured on the Grammy Awards and defended as “women exploring the power of their bodies.”

--How hating “whiteness” is somehow “anti-racist” rather than just another form of racism. 

--Why people seemingly fear the coronavirus above all other threats, including now when the initial goals for prevention, cure, flattening the curve, etc. are being met.

--Why disagreement is now so often equated ipso facto with offensiveness, i.e., if I disagree with your view somehow this means I disrespect you?

--Who died and made Big Tech King of the world.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Thou Shalt Not:

1-Enjoy wearing clothes or eating food developed by another culture because you’ll be guilty of cultural appropriation.

2-Oppose abortion, because if you do you really don’t care about women’s health.

3-Question any “settled science” re climate change or coronavirus orthodoxy because you will be spreading misinformation.

4-Express your ideas in public forums, i.e., freedom of speech, for you might use a microaggression and make someone uncomfortable, so you will be canceled.

5-Express moral convictions regarding LGBTQ+ because this makes you a bigot.

6-Be patriotic, for this is white supremacy.

7-Consider it straightforward that men who identify as women should not participate in women’s sports, for this is discriminatory, at least toward women but apparently women don’t matter. 

8-Argue critical race theory, intersectionality, and “anti-racism” are actually racist, directly counter to the tenets of Martin Luther King, Jr’s Civil Rights Movement, and you’ll be dismissed as someone caught in your own white fragility.

9-Favor border security and question the wisdom of open borders, because this makes you racist.

10-Own a gun, for this demonstrates you clearly don’t care about gun violence.

11-Disagree with, criticize, or even question another person’s behavior or attitudes because then you will be a hater.

12-Identify as an Evangelical, for this means you are a racist deplorable who endorsed everything former Pres Trump said or did, even if you didn’t vote for him.

13-Support law enforcement, for this means you are supremacist and racist.

14-Expect teachers to teach for this is common sense, something no longer endorsed by teachers’ unions.

15-Point out that every cell in the female body possesses XX chromosomes and every cell in the male body is comprised of XY chromosomes and no gender fluidity or sex change efforts will ever change this, which means that you are a hater who does not care about people struggling with gender dysphoria.

16-Note the threat to religious liberty written into the proposed Equality Act, for this makes you intolerant and prejudiced.

17-Point out the wildly anti-family, anti-Christianity, anti-American and racist values of the organization Black Lives Matter because this means ispso facto you support racism, bigotry, and discrimination.

18-Eat meat or other animal products because this is offensive to the animals.

19-Speak about virtually anything for fear of political correctness missteps.

20-Be assertive or express middle class bourgeois values for this is too much whiteness.

21-Expect media news programs to present developments without partisan or ideological messaging, encouraging citizens to decide for themselves, because this demonstrates you are hopelessly naïve.

22-Say you believe the U.S.A. was founded upon principles of liberty in 1776 not slavery in 1619, or say you believe American culture should be “color blind,” for you are demonstrating your white privilege.

23-Refer to your favorite animal as a pet for this is supremacist language.

24-Oppose the idea college debts should be forgiven because this destroys accountability and disillusions those who paid their debts, for this demonstrates you are privileged and insensitive.

25-Note the smug moral superiority of cancel culture and you’ll be considered a retrograde fly-over person.

26-Ask about a political appointee’s credentials, who is being celebrated for little more than his or her demography, and you’ll be noted as sexist or racist.

Woke-ism is about power created through victimhood. It can only perpetuate itself by continually identifying oppressors and newly perceived affronts, starting with language. Indeed, controlling the definition of words or inventing new vocabularies is one way to control the debate. 

So, to demonstrate their bonafides, the newly woke or woke activists now continuously and endlessly seek out new social activities about which to be offended. Celebrities and corporations in utter fear of being labeled “racist” or some other epithet suggesting they are not “with it,” rush to virtue signal their level of “offended-ness” and their newly declared woke status. In their rush to ride the wave, public institutions of learning embrace new “anti-racist” curricula and policies that condemn them to states of paralysis where everyone informs on everyone else or they just try to keep their head down, both approaches stifling education.

And the list of what’s not allowed or what’s racist or sexist or intolerant or “hateful” grows by the minute. The list here is simply an illustrative not an exhaustive list. But does any of this really help anyone?

Meanwhile, legitimate, needed discussions about racism, male-female relationships, gender issues, environmental concerns, election integrity, immigration policy go wanting. 

Is this the kind of country re really want?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Culture is generally defined as a “way of life.” 

It involves language, religion, shared attitudes, values, beliefs, goals, social mores and habits, music and arts, laws, politics and institutions, education, technologies and tools, cuisine, clothing. 

The word "culture” comes from the Latin "colere," meaning to tend the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture.

The word therefore fits well with what’s called the Cultural Mandate, Gen 1:26-28, in which God gave humanity responsibility for caring for and developing the earth’s resources. Theologians understand this command to include not only agriculture but all forms of cultural expression, i.e., that human beings are charged by God to develop and build culture. We are to be stewards of all that God has given us.

Most definitions of culture include religion as simply one item in a list of ingredients, as if religion happens to be just another expression of human behavior not unlike wearing pants or kilts.

But the late theologian Henry Van Til defined culture as “religion externalized.” Religion is not just part of culture; it generates and determines culture.

Culture is simply a worldview made evident. It is basic beliefs worked out into habits of life. It is theology translated into sociology. Culture is a very practical expression of the common faith of a community or a people or a nation. “

“What is true for one person is equally true for a whole community of persons. In 1905, Max Weber, the renowned political economist and “founding father” of modern sociology, affirmed this fundamental truth for modern social scientists in his classic work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. He argued that the remarkable prosperity of the West was directly attributable to the cultural, personal, and ethical prevalence of the Christian tradition. In contrast to so many other cultures around the globe, where freedoms and opportunities were severely limited and where poverty and suffering abounded, Weber found that faith brought men and nations both liberty and prosperity.”

So, culture is a living color picture of our values, just as Scripture said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7 KJV).

What we’re seeing today in the fragmentation and hyper-polarization of the American culture is not simply partisan or ideological tribalism, though this exists. It’s not simply the Haves and Have Nots, a division as old as time. It’s not for sure just a matter of oppressors and victims, White supremacy and racism, or some increasingly complex intersectionality being propagated.

What we’re seeing today in the hyper-polarization and increasingly hateful, borderline violent and at times actually violent culture wars is a clash of worldviews.

One (religious) worldview acknowledges, even if sometimes vaguely and inarticulately, God, the existence of objective truth, and the reality of revealed moral absolutes that at one time formed a consensus upon which American culture was built.

The other (religious) worldview(s) rejects the idea of God and truth, even if still holding on to these words that have long since been hollowed out and lost their meaning. This other worldview(s) does not believe in any absolute other than there are no absolutes, thus everyone can do “whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deut. 12:8).

Political disagreements no longer center on differing levels or what kind of taxes should be levied or how government should encourage more job creation, etc.

Now political disagreements involve fundamentally moral considerations:

  • Prolife or prochoice.
  • Support, legalize, advance LGBTQ+ rights even where the convictions of some religious citizens disagree.
  • Legalized not simply marijuana but other narcotics.
  • Disallow capital punishment for the most heinous crimes.
  • Breakdown the nuclear family in the interests of those claiming the family reinforces white supremacy.
  • Embrace new “antiracism” policies that do not honor and extend the legal gains of the Civil Rights Movement but rather create new racial categories in every corner of modern life, and call anyone who disagrees, racist.
  • Breakdown law and order in the name of antiracism, including not prosecuting lawbreakers.
  • Refusing to reform legal immigration processes, making orderly, peaceful, and lawful immigration and naturalization possible, while opening to illegal aliens access to rights of citizens like voting, and much more.

This is an illustrative not an exhaustive list.

There is little chance of agreement or even consensus when the issues debated are looked are moral issues and those debating disagree at the level of the moral presuppositions of their worldviews.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

I am sometimes asked, and I regularly see on social media, What is happening to America?

We are experiencing a battle of worldviews, one reacting to loss and defending what America once was, the other embracing a radical new vision of America. This is more than a culture war. It’s an American identity crisis.

It’s not Republican vs Democrat, though the crisis shows up every day in politics. It’s not religious vs irreligious, though these groups divide. It’s deeper, metaphysical if you will. Pres Obama was wrong when in 2016 he said, “We remain the strongest nation on earth by far and there are no existential threats facing us.” Now to be fair, he was giving an interview that largely referenced ISIS. But he broadened his answer far beyond international concerns.

For much of my lifetime, America has been rejecting in manifold ways the Judeo-Christian moral consensus, based upon belief in truth and individual responsibility, that formed the sacred canopy over our culture and touched every aspect of American life. 

More recently, Americans are rejecting the country’s founding documents and ideals, i.e., disbelief in the First Amendment, and the core values of liberty based upon law, free opportunity and enterprise, limited government, American exceptionalism and America’s capacity for good. 

The vacuum created by the loss of America’s historical, overarching sense of who we are and how we should order our lives has been filled by the rise of competing secular movements, all vying for dominance in a public square where principles-are-but-preferences so might makes right. 

We no longer have any means, other than power, to decide who we are and how we should behave.

During his Inaugural Address, Pres Biden called for unity. He said, “History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.” Then he later said, what defines us as Americans is Opportunity, Security, Liberty, Dignity, Respect, Honor, Truth.

I think unity is a good thing making social cohesion and accomplishment possible. I think opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and truth are good things. But Mr. Biden did not define these terms, nor did he suggest how we might decide what they mean. Clearly, in the noisy marketplace today, they mean different things to different people. Truth, for example, is no longer objectively defined truth, true whether you or I believe it or not, but something is “true” if you or I want it to be true or feel that it is true, perhaps despite all evidence to the contrary. Truth is now subjective, so it is a moving target and the group in power gets to define what it means. The same might be said for history, faith, and reason, all now tossed to-and-fro on the winds of postmodern relativism. 

So how can we hope to attain unity when we don’t agree on the most fundamental values that once defined and empowered the American system? The answer is, sadly, we cannot.

Unity, e pluribus unum, only returns to America when America returns to its roots. A country cannot long survive that does not know who it is and why it exists. 

So yes, the U.S.A. is now in the midst of an identity crisis and it is dealing with profound existential threats to its well-being and existence.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Purging public space of representations of (usually long-dead) individuals now considered persona non grata is the new past time of the American cancel culture.

Zealous woke social justice advocates are leading an effort to banish offending individuals forever from our presence, if not from history itself.

The latest: the names of 44 schools in San Francisco will be eventually dropped and changed. The San Francisco School Board decided that schools named after people who have "ties to racism" or have "dishonorable legacies” would be given new names, to be determined later. 

The city’s school board has voted to remove the names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others from the district’s buildings in a move it says it is intended to cut ties with historical figures who owned slaves or were involved in the “subjugation” of human beings.”

Other names include naturalist John Muir, Spanish priest Junipero Serra, American Revolution patriot Paul Revere and Francis Scott Key, composer of the “Star Spangled Banner,” Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Hoover, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Daniel Webster, Robert Louis Stevenson, et al.

Searching for Purity

In 2020, this search for purity started with statues or sculptures of “white males,” who were thought to have owned slaves, being dragged down in public parks. This destruction took place around the country, in nearly every case the result of mob action, though later, some city, county, or state authorities got involved.  

Ironically, the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, was defaced during summer 2020 protests. This unit, the second all-Black regiment organized during the Civil War, was depicted in the 1989 film, “Glory,” featuring Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman. Why this monument would be defaced remains a mystery.

A statue in Philadelphia honoring abolitionist Mathias Baldwin was defaced by social justice protestors. Vandals defaced statues of George Washington in New York City, as were statues of Ulysses S. Grant, and the longtime equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan will be removed. Others included numerous statues of Christopher Columbus, Cleveland Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Mahatma Gandhi, World War I and World War II memorials, and Polish Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko. The list goes on to include many Confederate Civil War officers featured in statues throughout the South, including Richmond, Virginia.

The trend continued with names being removed from buildings or statutes removed from lawns on public university campuses, including Woodrow Wilson’s name at Princeton University, and even Abraham Lincoln, the signer of the Emancipation Proclamation, deemed unworthy because he was labeled a representative of “white supremacy” for negatively affecting the lives of Native Americans, and Boston's Emancipation Memorial featuring Lincoln will be removed. If Abraham Lincoln is not safe, who is?

Let Any One of You Who Is Without Sin Be the First to Throw a Stone

I’ve written about this before: all historic and important figures, including those remembered in sculpture and statues, were imperfect sinful human beings. There are no perfect people. Indeed, if perfection or purity is our standard, we will honor no one but Jesus.

The Pharisees brought an adulteress woman to Jesus, noted the Old Testament said her sin was guilty of stoning, then asked Jesus what he would say. He pointed rather to their own sin and hypocrisy (John 8:3-11). The issue is again, everyone is sinful. “There is no one righteous, not even one,” (Romans 3:10).

The Apostle Peter denied Christ three times, yet Christ forgave him and worked through Peter to establish the Church (Matt. 26:69-75; John 21:15-17).

The Apostle Paul was once the persecutor of Christians, Saul, yet God forgave and used him to take the Word to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-19; 22:6-21; 26:12-18).

“Great” men and women all come with chinks in their armor. Yet because of God’s common or his saving grace, his forgiveness, he allows men and women to achieve in ways that advance civilization and bless humanity. Why shouldn’t we honor them? 

Candidate Bill Clinton said, “I smoked, but I didn’t inhale.” Candidate Barak Obama admitted in his own book to drug experimentation and what he called “youthful indiscretions.” The point here is not a judgment on these men or what they did but simply to note they had chinks in their armor too. Bill Clinton, and a host of others including Martin Luther King, Jr and Donald Trump, are known for their womanizing days. There was a time when this didn’t matter to the electorate. In the wake of #MeToo, no more. Point again is not to delve into these offenses per se but to note everyone, and I do mean everyone, who accomplishing anything in life has at some time sinned, failed, fallen short, engaged in unwise if not immoral behavior.

So now there’s this new cancel culture promulgating a Woke search for purity. Banish and disgrace anyone who, no matter how long ago, no matter how limited or actually inconsequential, did anything which now violates the social justice narrative. Judge the perceived “offending person” by current standards and narratives no matter how long ago or in what culture the person lived.

By now, for those living, the banishing pattern is apparent:

  • Refuse to invite or cancel speaking invitations for any offending person,
  • Trash the offending person’s reputation comprehensively, well beyond a given incident or expression deemed unacceptable,
  • Try to get the person fired or not hired, 
  • Collude with others to prevent the offending person from accessing social media, publishers, etc. 

“Off With Their Heads.”

In cancel culture there is no forgiveness, no grace. This is a problem on the Left and on the Right where ideological purity and power are ultimately all that matter. You are useful until, well, you are not.

The offending person, historical or current, gets no second chance, at least among the social justice advocates. Once deemed unworthy, it is, at least figuratively speaking, “Off with their heads.”

Cancel culture purges are a new form of social repression. The trend is nothing but bad, negative, and sinister for the future well-being of a free, pluralistic, and open society.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

At the start of Year 2021 and what also happens to be a new Administration, I’d list the following as our most important and far-reaching, political or social concerns facing the country: 

  1. Suppression of free speech

I never thought I’d write, much less see the day in America, when freedom of speech, the First Amendment, is no longer considered sacrosanct in America’s list of essential identifying ideals, but it’s here. 

It’s not just Big Tech acting to censor crazies or extremists but also conservatives they don’t like, and Christians. It’s also universities, once the bastions of free inquiry, that now shut down opportunities for students and personnel to express views considered unacceptable. 

Yes, it’s true the First Amendment applies to government, not to private enterprise, but then again there is two centuries of case law adjudicating tensions between a free society’s interest in open and free speech and a private entity’s or person’s concern for perhaps privacy or libel, etc. Clearly the idea of freedom of speech characterizes the American character and experience, and this is what is being challenged and endangered.

If we lose the First Amendment, i.e., freedom of speech, which also includes freedom of religion and freedom of the press, freedom of the people peaceably to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, we lose America. This is not an overstatement.

  1. Moral relativism.

When Francis A. Schaeffer was still writing in the 1970s and early 1980s, he warned us what would happen if culture set aside truth. He even coined a phrase, “true truth,” to convey what he was talking about, objective truth, truth whether you or I like it or not, truth that stands outside human definition. Perhaps this sounds “oh so philosophical” and not a matter practical for everyday life? But it is. In fact, the idea of truth affects every aspect of our society, beginning with public morality, law, education and science, politics, and culture.

But American culture has long since set aside any concern for truth, which is why we now have words like “truthiness,” why we have Fake News, and why no one any longer can trust any judgment or standard other than their own, including the Bible, the US Constitution, law and the courts, or any other authority.

What we have left is chaos. Schaeffer talked about “freedom without chaos.”  Now we must say we increasingly have chaos without freedom. We hoped for E pluribus unum but what we now have is “pluribus” but no “unum.” We have only argument, rancor, and the disillusionment that comes from this, and the only way of determining truth in the absence of belief in objective standards is power, i.e. might makes right. 

This is not the America the Founders envisioned and that we have strived for the past two centuries.

  1. Sexual progressivism.

The whole spectrum of sex and gender issues, including LGBTQ+, same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity now with its own acronym SOGI, and trans activism is the point of the spear advancing a Leftist, illiberal agenda on collision course with religious liberty. Sexual progressivism is about a wholesale worldview, value revolution in American society. Indeed, religious liberty is already being challenged with preachers who share biblical views about homosexuality being accused of “hate speech” and Christian organizations beginning to be harassed for their personnel policies adhering to biblical doctrine and thus not hiring or maintaining LGBTQ+ individuals. 

But advancing sexual progressivism is threatening to more than religious liberty. It undermines social order. If a person is a Gay man, he likes men, but he’s still a man. If a person is Lesbian, she likes women, but she is still a woman. If a person claims to be transgender, he/she is what? Where do they fit in the social order? What happens not just to male and female bathrooms or locker rooms, which is a legitimate discussion, what happens to male and female sports? What happens to family law and children’s issues, and how is this to be handled in education, not only in university but now in elementary schools? The list goes on.

Those who embrace sexual progressivism in any of its forms, which is increasingly a calling card in Hollywood and now politics, are not satisfied with freedom to be. They want society to endorse and promote their values in everyday life. This is a threat to the existence of a free society.

  1. Lawlessness.

Hypocrisy, what other word better describes American politicians and news media who ignored or even endorsed summer 2019 city riots, promoted “Defund the Police,” and then condemned the January 6, 2021 US Capitol riot? Surely the Capitol riot should be condemned and rioters prosecuted, but so should the summer and continuing riots in Seattle and Portland

What we’re seeing is what Scripture long ago pointed out: “everyone does that which is right in his own eyes, (Judges 17:6).

A free society to be free must be one based upon law and order. Freedom does not exist in chaos or anarchy, and this is what we watched in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and many other cities in summer 2019. I am, of course, not condemning or wanting to limit peaceful protestors, and these people expressed themselves in each city. But even they and their purposes were overwhelmed by the foolish kowtowing of city and state politicians to what they considered politically advantageous mobs.

Laws matter, for they restrain the sinful nature of humanity. Government exists, Romans 13 tells us, to hold accountable evil doers.  When governing officials abdicate their responsibilities, the people suffer.

  1. Wokeism.

Being “woke” and the antiracist racism that is part of its embrace of Critical Race Theory is now not simply a threat to American education, business, government, and culture but is now a dominant force. Basic woke ideas, masquerading under the umbrella of fighting racism, are being embraced by corporations, major league sports, and government as some kind of panacea for perceived “systemic racism,” but what these ideas really promote is division, race and class or oppressor and oppressed warfare, and identity politics. 

Being “woke” is now an expectation on most public university campuses. Universities are no longer hallowed halls inviting free and open inquiry.

The Left pushes victim theory, the idea there is an oppressor (defined as white or as capitalism) and the oppressed (defined as minorities, people of color).

Wokeism is a worldview contrary to biblical Christianity, and as such, it promotes a radical view of not simply the Church but American culture.

  1. Cancel Culture.

Cancel culture is an extension of loss of freedom of speech and an embrace of Wokeism, but examples of cancel culture may be found that do not tie directly to woke philosophy. It’s a new way not only to reject people’s ideas but the people themselves, to ruin their reputation, and possibly to get them fired or not hired or otherwise make them kryptonite to any employer.

Cancel culture is about dominance, not about unity but about submission. For example, a university professor lost his job because he said men cannot get pregnant.

Cancel culture is about suppression. It seeks to silence ideas deemed out of alignment with the “acceptable narrative,” like for example whether masks really need to be worn in public and whether they are effective, whether virus lockdowns promoted by state officials are about health or about power, or whether there is such a thing as “systemic racism” to name a few.

Cancel culture is a child of the social media age, but it is not healthy or sustainable in a free and open society.

  1. Self-serving politicians.

I am weary beyond measure of politicians who act like immature, nasty children

Insulting language, no standard of objective truth just subjective “your/my” truth, smug self-righteousness, autocratic attitudes or behavior, lying as a way of life—despite at times being caught yet continuing with no visible remorse, incivility, vitriol, venom with little concern for etiquette or politeness, victimhood, lack of grace or forgiveness, moral degeneracy, emotion-driven irrational thinking, and no apparent commitment to time-tested values or lofty ideals just an allegiance to a “narrative” or agenda built on a drive for power. 

Gender, race, party, ideology, wealth, education and nominal faith—none of these inoculate people from nihilistic nastiness. 

I know a lot of people. Nary a one of them act like this. Yet the nation’s leaders do. 

Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men (women) are almost always bad men (women).” It appears he understood human nature. 

But there was a time not long ago when civility triumphed over pettiness, helping to avoid polarization. It was when we believed in something more than ourselves, in liberty and truth, in an America where what mattered was character, opportunity, and sacrifice.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.