A fascinating set of remarks from someone posting as Celia, in the “Evangelical Advantage” thread:
I left the Catholic church but recently rejoined it in part because of what I saw happening in the wider culture regarding religious liberty and freedoms being threatened. Indiana really knocked me off base. Also, when culture wars hit home personally, you feel it. A pivotal day occurred last March during a staff meeting, when we were discussing some brochures we meant to release. A new staff member, a committed gender theorist, expressed concern about using a portrait of a male subject to illustrate the self-same male subject. Her objection was based solely on the fact that the illustration would depict a man, even though a man was the subject of brochure.
At that moment my lifelong assumption of a culture of shared Logos was shattered. I wish I had said something obvious, but I was mute -– it felt as if we were suddenly all thrust into a bizarre alternate reality where even one’s identity as a male or female was subject to erasure by a ham-fisted cultural elite.
I thought about this incident for days. I was shocked to the core that a well-educated person of some importance in academia could say something that, at least on the face of it, appeared not only nonsensical, but deeply threatening to human dignity and freedom.
Thus, one either succumbs to the madness, or returns to church to take a stand.
It was hard to take a stand last night at a showing of “Far from the Madding Crowd.” I was in a theater in a university district. It was “Ladies Night,” half price for two or more women, and the theater was crowded with young women. I was with my own little group of ladies. During the film, groups of women laughed uproariously whenever one of Hardy’s men attempted to woo the lead lady. A humble 19th-century proposal of marriage elicited great guffaws from the leering spectators. Hilarity ensued when a man attempted to outline what he could offer the heroine in the way of protection and stability.
As a woman this shocked me to the core – I realized that any man who was not gay, misogynistic, or possibly misanthropic would come under the approbation of a new generation of female vipers. In a touching and ironic real-life finale, a strange man chivalrously waited for me to arrive at theater door and held it open for me as I exited that den of fools.
I am trying to give a sense of what life is like in an environment where there is virtually no religious feeling and no historical sense of gender complementarity, which is one of the core teachings of the orthodox faith. The church, when it’s not being directly attacked by the media, is being indirectly attacked by a culture that could never seek to understand religious grandeur, majesty, history, or meaning.
Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism contain a vast profusion of ideas over a span of two thousand years – ideas of God, Heaven and Hell, the purpose of life, art, beauty, social good, and human exceptionalism, excellence, and nobility.
Orthodox Christianity is a vast room filled to overflowing with a profusion of inexhaustible gifts. Protestantism appeals more, perhaps, to the need of Americans for a simplified approach, a streamlined emphasis on the Gospel as opposed to history, art, and the whole mysterious drama of the saints depicted within the walls of cathedrals.
In that theater audience last night, there was little mystery, sacredness, or beauty – just a hardened cynical rejection of something as plain and human as a 19th-century romance. Orthodoxy needs to stress its deep historicity and its astounding profusion of saints, sinners, theologians, epochs — if only to counter the coarse inability of a younger generation to appreciate civility, imaginative capacity, and Christian virtues of love and charity.