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Yes, We Lost the Culture War

Brought to you by Disney. Yes, Disney. Tells you all you need to know about where America is today — and where we are going.

If you are not a Benedict Option kind of Christian, your children and grandchildren probably won’t be any kind of Christian at all. This kind of thing — this relentless propaganda mocking the faith and what it stands for — is why. You may not be interested in being a radicalized Christian, but simply to stand firm for what you believe today will require you to be a radical in this increasingly anti-Christian culture.

UPDATE: Readers, it’s not that I expect this show to be a big hit. It’s the idea that a mainstream network would offer something so crass, vulgar, and hateful of religion as a comedy. This thing will likely fail, but that mentality will keep coming back, because it’s what lives in the imaginations of the people who run the image factory.

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116 Comments To "Yes, We Lost the Culture War"

#1 Comment By John Dumas On May 21, 2015 @ 1:15 am

Rod,
I actually concur with you here.

[NFR: “Diaper play.” Vom. — RD]

But as long as it’s not in my face, it’s also none of my business. People are entitled to enjoy activities I would find appalling. They don’t need my permission.

#2 Comment By Chris 1 On May 21, 2015 @ 3:29 am

[NFR: And you got the impression (in the movie; I’ve never seen the TV show) that the writer was satirizing something she loved, not something she despised. Huge difference. — RD]

That’s exactly right.

#3 Comment By JonF On May 21, 2015 @ 6:18 am

Re: when good Catholics decided, for instance, that novels were evil and novel-reading an immoral pastime, the result was that only Protestants wrote novels

Erin, when was this a thing? I grew up Catholic but I never heard of it.

#4 Comment By JonF On May 21, 2015 @ 6:26 am

Agathonika

There certainly are political gays (HRC, GLAAD, even some radical ones), but their “agenda” is a matter of public record not some Illuminati-style conspiracy. Whenever I hear people talk about their political foes in this vein I begin to suspect political paranoia (an American epidemic, alas) has set in. Yes, that extends to leftwing feminists who posit that the pro-Life movement’s real agenda to stuff women back in mumus and faux pearls and chain them to the kitchen for endless cookie-baking. As a general rule political stuff should be taken at face value (which does not mean supporting any of it!) unless there is solid evidence to the contrary.

#5 Comment By Erin Manning On May 21, 2015 @ 10:35 am

JonF, it was a “thing” in the earlier days of novel-reading, very roughly during the earlier part of the 1800s–so, not a recent phenomenon. 🙂 I’m aware of it from my nerdy lit-major past. Even in Protestant households there were some strict moralists who thought novels would be bad and dangerous. The website below contains some pretty interesting bits of writing from the 1820s to 1850s about the “dangers” or “evils” of novel-reading, and one piece tries to tell young boys that John Wilkes Booth likely killed President Lincoln because Booth was addicted to dime novels!

And in my own early years as a Catholic homeschooled student (I was homeschooled beginning in the middle of my sophomore year) I would occasionally, in the specifically Catholic literature textbooks we would use (many of them printed in the 1950s) come across a similar dislike/suspicion of novels. Some of that was probably a throwback to the author’s parents’ generation’s thoughts on the matter, but some of it was unabashed Catholic triumphalism which tried to argue that a novel’s “classic” status was no reason to ignore its Protestant origins, which might be somehow dangerous to budding Catholic minds. (The only real danger was that in substituting poorly written or insipid Catholic works for really good literary novels some textbook authors merely taught students to hate literature altogether, but since most literary textbooks exist to teach children to hate literature I can’t really single out these specific ones as any worse than any other.)

The point is that nearly every “new” literary medium, from plays to poems to novels to movies to TV to video games (to, probably, YouTube channels etc. if I only knew about it) comes within a certain amount of time after its introduction to be blamed for lowering the mind and moral tone of those who consume it. While someone like Lord Karth is happy merely to condemn the whole medium as suspect and dangerous, the reality is that stories are powerful ways to teach and enlighten, and that it is better to direct the taste and critical ability of one’s children than to scatter anathemas against entire forms of fiction.

#6 Comment By Erin Manning On May 21, 2015 @ 10:36 am

Oh, goodness, forgot the link:

[1]

Don’t miss the one about Booth, or the one where a man blames the whole wreckage of his life on his bad habit of reading novels. 😉

#7 Comment By Ben H On May 21, 2015 @ 11:55 am

Here’s a little story about how Disney treats its employees whose tasks do not include encouraging teens to try the gay lifestyle: [2]

#8 Comment By grumpy realist On May 21, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

Erin–you might also want to mention the swipes made against French novels in Louisa May Alcott’s books (e.g. Rose in Bloom.) Nothing Catholic related–such novel-reading was considered Bad and Unwholesome, period.

(Louisa May Alcott described a lot of her own work as “moral pap for the young” and seems to have had more fun writing “shilling-shockers”. But there seems to have been quite a demand…)

Also–maybe we can have a thread about good children’s literature and why even adults can get something from it? I’ve been re-reading Lloyd Alexander’s Pyrdain novels and thinking “drat–why don’t authors write like this any more?” There is so much depth and wisdom in Lloyd’s writing. Humor and tragedy, the horrors of war, and a LOT about self-sacrifice so that “virtuous and good men shall not perish from this earth.” I can learn so much more from rereading a good children’s classic than from anything on TV (including this stupid Disney show about the O’Neals which I predict will vanish within one season.)

#9 Comment By JonF On May 21, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

Thanks Erin. I was thinking in terms of my mother’s generation. I was aware there was push-back against “bad” novels during the Victorian era, just as there is push-back against raunchy TV and movies today. I never knew this extended to novels in general. In earlier times there were Catholic novelists– Cervantes obviously, and in the 18th century the Abbé Prevost(“Manon Lescaut”). However the first half of the 1800s was a reactionary era in Catholicism– probably a reaction to the Revolution and Napoleon- when popes inveighed against many “modern dangers”, from smallpox inoculation to railroads.

#10 Comment By mhornbeam On May 21, 2015 @ 2:52 pm

“The only people who think he is some kind of demi-god are the kind of brainless HuffPo true believers who also think the guy who used to be navigator for the Enterprise is the height of both wit and political insight. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of those people.”

What do you have against Walter Koenig?

#11 Comment By MikeCA On May 21, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

Agathonika,the comment Maris made was indefensible and it surprises me that you made the effort. People are not “turned gay”,it’s ludicrous on its very face. And if that’s your idea of motherly concern & compassion,you can put me down for the other side. Someone being gay is not a tragedy,period.

#12 Comment By Eamus Catuli On May 21, 2015 @ 4:18 pm

Erin, thanks very much for that link. I knew of some of these criticisms of “sensational literature,” but didn’t have a convenient compilation of source texts like this. You’re right, the analyses of John Wilkes Booth are particularly interesting. They’re also, I think, largely true: in his mind, the guy was clearly acting out a role in some kind of grand theatrical drama, although his template probably came primarily from Shakespeare rather than dime novels, as indicated by his Julius Caesar-esque flourish after leaping onto the Ford’s Theater stage. (Then again, I haven’t studied the novels he’s alleged to have read; now I’m interested in checking into this further.)

On a related point, the early KKK was organized by big fans of the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and imagined itself the successor to the romanticized Scottish patriots in Scott’s bestsellers.

The general point, I suppose, is that people naturally imagine their lives as stories and in terms of stories, so the stories they read (or nowadays, view) can have a moral influence — although not necessarily one that tracks easily with the quality of the literary work. Some goofball can misread Shakespeare as a handbook for assassins just as easily as he can misread a dime novel.

The point is that nearly every “new” literary medium, from plays to poems to novels to movies to TV to video games (to, probably, YouTube channels etc. if I only knew about it) comes within a certain amount of time after its introduction to be blamed for lowering the mind and moral tone of those who consume it.

This also is true, and here’s another example you might appreciate to add to that list: church music. (Protestant church music, anyway.) I give you John F. Watson’s Methodist Error; or, Friendly, Christian Advice (to those Methodists, who indulge in extravagant religious emotions and bodily exercises), 1819, emphases in the original:

…..I have seen and known several persons who have been exercised with falling down, jumping up, clapping of hands, and screaming, all in a manner to disturb the whole congregation… They appeared to make religion a business of passion and emotion…. We see no such affections in other churches.… It began in Virginia, and as I have heard, among the blacks.

…..We have too, a growing evil, in the practice of singing in our places of public and society worship, merry airs, adapted from old songs, to hymms of our composing, often miserable as poetry, and senseless as matter, and most frequently composed and first sung by the illiterate blacks…. In the blacks’ quarter, the coloured people get together, and sing for hours together, short scraps of disjointed affirmations, pledges, or prayers, lengthened out with long repetition choruses. These are all sung in the merry chorus-manner of the southern harvest field, or husking frolic-method, of the slave blacks; and also very greatly like the Indian dances. With every word so sung, they have a sinking of one or other leg of the body alternately; producing an audible sound of the feet at every step, and as manifest as the steps of actual negro dancing in Virginia, &c. If some, in the meantime sit, they strike the sounds alternately on each thigh. What in the name of religion, can countenance or tolerate such gross perversions of true religion! but the evil is only occasionally condemned, and the example has already visibly affected the religious manners of some whites…. Are those who sing so long, and so incessantly, (frequently they are very young and inexperienced persons) quite sure they continue to sing with the spirit and the understanding; and are they able to discriminate how little of it is of mere animal spirits?

In related passages, Watson condemns the music for overly exciting the congregants, especially young women, whose enthusiastic gyrations then turn the heads of the poor ministers and lead them into sin. I don’t think I’m imagining that we’re seeing all the elements here of the early critiques of rock’n’roll 150 years later: it’s poor quality music and lyrics, overly rhythmic and all about jumping around and screaming, it’s oversexualized and appeals to “animal spirits,” it’s dangerous for the young, and a key culprit, of course, is the musical influence of “the blacks.” A problem we still struggle to overcome even today. 😉

#13 Comment By Agathonika On May 21, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

MikeCA, until the “gay gene” is proven to the degree of certainty of any other genetic disease with no environmental factors (fewer of those than most people think), it is not at all “indefensible” to talk about the experiences and environments that influence young people to identify as exclusively homosexual.

Stop being an anti-science bigot.

#14 Comment By MikeCA On May 22, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

Agathonika,even if environmental factors do play a role in determining sexual orientation it doesn’t justify labelling those who are gay “tragic” or lesser than in any way. Religion is a choice,full stop. Look at all the people on this blog that are on to their second or third religious affiliation. I don’t find it tragic they ditched their original faith for one that suits them better,though their families might. As for being bigoted against science – I don’t believe I’ve ever advocated for science to be legally discriminated against in any fashion or that I think their work is concerning or some such nonsense. We may never definitively determine how sexual orientation is formed,so what. I don’t blame the young man from running as far away from you as possible. I plan on keeping my distance as well.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 23, 2015 @ 12:19 am

Agathonika,even if environmental factors do play a role in determining sexual orientation it doesn’t justify labelling those who are gay “tragic” or lesser than in any way.

It may or may not be tragic. Depends on the circumstances. There ARE SOME people who have gone from hetero to homo and back to heterosexual, and consider the departure tragic. I’ll take their word for it. There are also some who affirm they knew from the age of six they were gay. I’ll take their word for it too.

It certainly doesn’t make anyone less of a person. Even if homosexuality is always and in every case “tragic,” it is no reason to fire someone from their job, deny them access to the grocery store, or any number of other pieces of daily life.

I don’t in fact believe there is firm evidence for any explanation of why some people find homosexuality attractive. Quite plausibly, some people’s genes are a little different, other people’s EPIgenetic is a little different, some may be the effects of mercury poisoning (Help decrease the number of homosexuals — support the EPA’s new limits on mercury pollution!), and some may be the result of some trauma in life.

Nobody should be too quick to affirm as FACT any of the above being the exclusive agent. But we all have the right to spout an opinion, or explain why we believe it.

#16 Comment By Matt On December 6, 2015 @ 9:12 am

The only battle the “Culture Warriors” have won is the expansion of Plutocracy.

Nice legacy.