Saturday, May 20, 2006

Christians as Fall Guys for Cultural Transformation

An old essay from my mentor Rev. Edward T. Oakes, SJ ties together the Freud post from below and the unfortunate Da Vinci Code mania:

From the democratic perspective, particular cultures are critically evaluated in the light of the way they give distinct concrete expression to universal capacities and values. [Yet] the objective of a liberal democratic culture is to respect-not to repress-ethnic identities and to encourage different cultural traditions to develop fully their potential for expression of the democratic ideals of freedom and equality, leading in most cases to major cultural transformations [emphasis added].

But these transformations don't come cheap, which is precisely why the issue is so neuralgic. The contradiction lurking in all this rhetoric is the quite unspoken presupposition that governs this debate: that some culture has to be the chump and play the role of the fall guy, an admission that perhaps only comes to light in this telling line from respondent Susan Wolf: "And the problems of those who have been urged to ignore or suppress or remove their differences from white Christian heterosexuals can remind us of the dangers of trying to deny the significance, say, of gender differences that may run very deep." A nice touch there, that glancing reference to "Christian."
-Attention Must Be Paid

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