"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Right wingers speak for Christianity again

We will be attending church at First Lutheran on Christmas Eve. Will the Christmas of 2013 be remembered as the "Duck Dynasty" Christmas?
People who make their living in religion must be cringing. Already it was known that Christianity had an uneasy relationship with the "hard right" of politics. An author on C-Span spoke about this once. People on the hard right of politics claim they speak for Christianity, that they have to fight for Christianity. They are entitled to their beliefs, naturally. They make so much noise, people who don't know better might think it's true.
There is a consequence for the mainstream religious faiths.
The speaker on C-Span talked about the "nones": the people who just don't incorporate church into their lives. They check the "none" box when asked about religious denomination. They aren't adamant about this non-practice. They just don't work church into their lives. It's very easy to do, to organize your life in such a way.
And for the younger generation, there is an aspect of faith that disillusions many of them. And, that aspect is the public perception of church-going and Christianity as being connected to the right wing of politics. The C-Span speaker talked about "people on the ground" in religion, i.e. the people who make their living in this field, being concerned about the alienating effect. They depend on numbers and enthusiasm of course.
People on the political right are unyielding on this matter. They are quite convinced of the virtue of their positions. They detest those who might disagree with their politics. They seem even to detest those who might express indifference. The concern of religious professionals is made more urgent by the "Duck Dynasty" matter.
Political conservatives see the "Duck Dynasty" family as reflecting their beliefs and values.
First of all, it's just a TV program. It's an entertainment product. I have never watched it, but am aware that it seems a cultural phenomenon. I was aware that it appealed to the Sarah Palin types. These people quote the Bible. You can quote the Bible to support just about any opinion you want.
The circle of the show's defenders claim they stand for Christianity, that they are defending Christianity. The media have been passive and seemed to allow this frame of reference to develop.
"Duck Dynasty" is Bible-oriented. It fights for purported Christian values. I think it's more a reminder of the Mason-Dixon Line. It tells us that many Southern white people remain fundamentally different from the rest of us.
Why have we gotten so attracted to the culture of losers? The South lost. It lost in the Civil War and has lost in the cultural battles since. How did the Dixiecrats turn out? Or, the Alabama governor "standing in the schoolhouse door?"
"Duck Dynasty" reflects a culture so regressive, it needs gimmicks, like the men's beards, to get attention. "Duck Dynasty" may be a curiosity like zoo animals.
But the show has inspired a breathless political discussion that takes up much cable TV news time. We are now supposed to weigh the ideas of the TV show's patriarch. (I get the impression that your average Civil War re-enactment is less staged than "Duck Dynasty.")
Because of a stupid magazine interview, we're supposedly in some sort of serious cultural clash now. It's a clash with the winner already decided.
Phil Robertson says black people were happier in the pre-civil rights (movement) days. Do we even need to have a discussion about this? We're really talking about the merits of the Jim Crow days?
As for the gay lifestyle, a typical libertarian young person would say "it doesn't matter how I feel about it, people should just have their freedoms."
The battle over Jim Crow was concluded long ago. Gay rights is a more recent phenomenon.
Fox News champions "Duck Dynasty" because of vague notions about traditional values. Such values can be translated to "regressive" or any other such term (like "loser").
The people on cable TV news had a field day last week. They must have been snickering when the cameras were off. They like the ripe subject matter, which had the ideologues pushing all the usual buttons. But they must have been worried, too, that the public would begin collectively shaking its head. Shaking its head over the absurdity of the topic.
The wisdom of Jim Crow in the year 2013? Maybe God will punish us for even taking the subject seriously.
"Duck Dynasty" entertains the bored public by being a novelty. All entertainment products reflect a formula. It's certainly true for cable TV news. Entertainment pros know that extremes attract attention. This can be dangerous as we are now seeing with this curious "Duck Dynasty" controversy.
Controversy! The TV execs love it. But there's a very serious danger for our culture (I mean our normal, non-Deep South culture) to allow "Duck Dynasty" to speak for the Christian faith. The mainstream Christian denominations already had a concern with this sort of thing. The current controversy inflames.
I will attend church on Christmas Eve trying not to devote a thought to the right wingers who are trying to speak for me.
There are even "liberals" who are Christians. Pay attention to the new Catholic Pope.
In summation re. "Duck Dynasty": Now that I can crystallize my thoughts, my main conclusion on "Duck Dynasty" is that it's the East Coast media elite's conception of what us people are like out in America's heartland. It's a caricature and ought to make us pull our hair out.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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