Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The 1950s, California, and Old-School Thinking

As a practicing Catholic, I do not want to go back to the days when conservative fundamentalist/evangelical/whatever Protestants were a dominant force in American culture. (see "Why I Became a Catholic")

I also think it would be nice if the folks who run America's colleges learned that Tony Alamo is not necessarily representative of all Christian leaders.

But, as I've said before, things aren't always "nice" in this world.

Change Happens

Nostalgia can be fun, but I think it's important to keep track of what decade it is, at least. (February 14, 2011)

There may have been periods in history when someone could put their mind in 'hibernate' mode in their early 20s - and get along quite well for the rest of a long life. This isn't, in my opinion, one of those periods.

I remember when television, miniskirts, and the Beatles were threatening civilization. In the opinion of some, anyway.

I also remember the transition from McCarthyism, to grooviness, to political correctness. Along the way I became a Catholic - and that's another topic.


What I want to emphasize is that quite a lot has changed in America, since 1961.

Oppressors, Name-Calling, and Getting a Grip

A half-century ago, Bible-thumpers called the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon. Maybe some still do.

Somewhat more importantly, I think, a member of the president's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships proclaimed that Pope Benedict XVI is "hurting people in the name of Jesus." The fellow also called the Knights of Columbus "foot soldiers" of an "army of oppression" because we say that people should marry folks of the same species, but opposite sex. (August 17, 2010)

In one way, I don't think that a presidential adviser is more important than someone like Pat Robertson or Tony Alamo. (Galatians3:27-v29; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1934-1938)

In another way, I think what a presidential adviser thinks is real matters more than what Robertson and Alamo believe. That's because Robertson and Alamo, despite their high profiles in comparison to an average American, have relatively little influence in America's dominant culture.

A presidential adviser is in a position to speak directly to the chief executive of the United States. Even with occasionally-effective checks and balances, the President has a great deal of influence in this country.

'Dominant Culture,' Then and Now

This may be controversial: but in my considered opinion, America has changed since Leave It to Beaver was filmed.

Back in the '50s, folks with 'good, old-fashioned values' could come close to censoring American publishers. (Apathetic Lemming of the North, "The Horror! Monster Comics that Scared Congress" (October 31, 2010))

Back then, someone could say that "Christians" were oppressive - provided that he or she could make others think that a particular segment of Protestant America represented all of Christendom.

'Fundamentalists' really did have a remarkable amount of influence, as I recall.

That was then. This is now.

America has been through the Vietnam War, bell-bottoms, disco, and polyester leisure suits. We've had an Irish president, and the current commander-in-chief is black. The way I'm a Scotsman, and that's yet another topic.

My point is: IT ISN'T THE '50s ANY MORE.

America is a "Christian" country in the sense that roughly three out of four folks here say they're Catholic, Protestant, or another flavor of Christian. (2007 estimate, "United States," CIA World Factbook (last updated January 20, 2011)) I think it's arguable that many of us don't take our faith all that seriously.

Certainly not when it comes to "imposing our beliefs on others." Remember the Volstead Act?

On the other hand, there was that mosque in Tennessee that some jerks burned down. ('See? That proves how hateful those dirty Christians are!') The rest of that story involves community churches providing meeting places for Muslims who'd been burned out - and passing the hat to help them rebuild. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 16, 2008))

If you don't remember seeing that in the news, I'm not surprised. It doesn't fit the template of what 'those Christians' are supposed to be like - and, again, this isn't the 1950s.

America has changed.

Old-School Assumptions About 'Those Christians'

Here's what got me started on this post:
"University to Change Policy Defining Religious Discrimination as Oppression by Christians"
Todd Starnes, (February 16, 2011)

"The University of California at Davis has backed away from a policy that defined religious discrimination as Christians oppressing non-Christians after more than two dozen Christian students filed a formal complaint.

"The definition was listed in a document called, 'The Principles of Community.' It defined 'Religious/Spiritual Discrimination' as 'The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture's religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.'

"This is radical political correctness run amok,' said David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund...."
As I said before, I do not want to go back to the 'good old days,' when Bible-thumpers could get books suppressed. But I'd like to see folks who run America's academic establishment wake up, and notice that Woodstock is history.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.