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For years now social conservatives have devoted thousands of words to defending everything from office hook-ups to high heels to ridiculous 1950s images of masculinity to Playboy. There is a word for all this: nostalgia. Whatever you think you are defending when you pound out your wistful fantasy of what it must have been like in the good old days when unmarried junior vice presidents fresh from their three-martini lunches would give Phyllis a gentle pat on the rump on the way back to their desks, it has nothing to do with Christianity. This, I think, is a largely unrecognized fissure in social conservatism. Saying "Merry Christmas" but meaning something invented by Coca-Cola as much as you do the Nativity; windy sentimentality about "our flag;" Mad Men-derived pagan attitudes about sex; harder hits in football; concerns about "political correctness": These are all things toward which Christians must be at best indifferent and in many cases hostile. The peace that some Christians think they will be able to make with the higher liberalism of Hillary Clinton, Goldman Sachs, and HGTV is an illusion. There is no world in which it is possible to live as both faithful Christians and McMansion-dwelling suburbanite commodity fetishists who just happen to spend their Sunday mornings doing something other than watching ESPN or eating brunch. Taking up our crosses involves something far more radical. Just how radical will only become clearer in the years to come as the seemingly inexorable forces of capital and exchange continue to erode the hills we were all supposed to die on according to the Susan B. Anthony List, and the things we believe sound increasingly mysterious, even wicked, to the rest of the population.
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