A reader writes:
I am a primary care physician in a major Southern city –
I can testify for sure – most people would be horrified if they knew what their children/grandchildren were looking at online.
Just this afternoon – I had a 42 year old mother in tears in my office. Her son is a sophomore in high school at a “gifted and talented school” here in the local community. One of his high school age friends texted my patient – the mother – the following in reference to her son – “leave him alone B=$%h – or you will have to deal with me”. Apparently the mother had been all over her son for spending too much time on his computer and had begun making restrictions. The friend was not happy. When she doubled down after this text – the friend then sent her a picture of a KKK grand wizard holding a revolver to the head of a kitten. When she called the mother of the boy about this incident – the mother began laughing hysterically – and marveling at his creativity.
Mind you – this is just today’s story – I can write a novel from just what has happened to my patients in the past 12 months.
My parents in the 1970s were worried about us ending up like Eddie Haskell on the Beaver show. He comes off as a saint compared to many of these kids I am dealing with today.
I have two sons at home – toddlers – the stories that I am dealing with every day horrify me about the America my children will inherit.
People need to begin taking this stuff seriously – but I am afraid they are not.
Reader Edward Hamilton, who teaches in a small Southern Evangelical college, writes:
Regardless of whether or not Christianity retains nominal membership by a large fraction of the country, it’s clear that the locus of passions in the hearts of many younger Christians has shifted from issues that involve the traditional church community to issues that involve post-Christian (or even nihilistically anti-Christian) online communities.
Last weekend, a bunch of my students were waxing enthusiastic about the 4chan humiliation of Shia LaBeouf’s “He Will Not Divide Us” campaign. This barely made a ripple in the broader media, even in the traditional conservative media. But it was a major coup in the alt-Right media world, and my student knew about it within hours of it happening. The general consensus of my boys was “Do NOT mess with 4chan. They will wreck you for life.”
I was reminded of a recent post here about Islam being “the last bad-ass religion”. There’s nothing bad-ass about Christianity these days. I teach at a small Christian college that until just this year wouldn’t even let its faculty drink alcohol; I’m telling you now, there is no political action by a figure or organization on the old-style Christian Right, substantive or symbolic, that any of my students would care about — certainly not on the same level that they care about how 4chan is brilliantly messing with Shia LeBeouf. They know 4chan is a hot mess of racism and sexism; that came up in the conversation, without much push-back. But they just don’t care. The symbolic power of lowering that flag and raising a Trump hat was a shot in the arm in a way that anodyne calls for a more winsome Christian witness in the postmodern world can never be. I’ll take a 100-to-1 bet against ever hearing any of my students kibitzing passionately over the weekend about a David Brooks column, or a James K.A. Smith book. Or for that matter, a Rod Dreher book.
This was not always true. A millennium ago, it was Saint Boniface who was chopping down the sacred grove of Thor in order to gather wood to build the foundations for Fritzlar’s altar. Christianity and paganism were the allegiances that mattered, the ones that generated emotional energy and engaged the popular imagination. Christianity was ascendant, and it was totally bad-ass. Boniface was kicking a millennium of paganism to the curb, and ushering in a millennium of Christendom.
This week, the world’s next Saint Boniface was celebrated by an audience that will inherit the world, one that is growing as rapidly as the church is shrinking, as young and vigorous as the leadership of most denominations is aging and benign.
Celebrate it, dread it, or ignore it, but our new Saint Boniface is an anon on /pol/.