I am beginning to wonder if the metaphorical “culture wars” are going to become a bit less metaphorical. And it is more than just a religion thing – it’s a war on common sense.
I should have smelled it coming when “PZEV” started to appear on vehicles in California. That stands for “Partial Zero Emission Vehicle.” This is an official government classification out here is looney land:
PZEVs have their own administrative category within the state of California for low emission vehicles.
This vehicle category was created as part of a bargain with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), so that the automobile manufacturers could postpone producing mandated zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), which will require the production of electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Now I realize not everyone is a math person, but I don’t think you really have to be a math person to understand the grammatical absurdity of that designation. “ZERO” indicates nothing. How can one have part of nothing? How can one divide nothing? This designation is truly Orwellian in its abuse of language.
But it seems California lawmakers and regulators are not done twisting the language:
Leave it to my state of California to head off in radical and expensive directions. Legislation has been filed that would require group insurance to cover gay and lesbian infertility treatments just as they do heterosexual.
Gay and Lesbian infertility?! Of course they are infertile – it s a definitional thing! If you want the government to pay for in-vitro and surrogacy and sperm donation and all the rest of the gyrations that would be necessary in this case, then fine. I won’t vote for it, but that is what democracy is all about. But to call it “infertility?!” – That’s a bit like saying, “We have to fix this whole night and day problem and compensate everyone for the lost wages while they sleep.”
Remember last week when I talked about Christianity as being a force to preserve excellence? This is part of that, this may seem like a little thing, but the abuse of language and definitions here is horrifying. That people would buy into this is testament to an utter lack of anything resembling educational excellence. This is not college level stuff here.
But the “war” is more overt than just language perversion. There is this from the United States Army:
A U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania, Fox News has learned.
And this from the most liberal paper in the UK:
Which brings up the second obvious aspect about these issues: that they will be with us as long as there are political actors and business interests that have an interest in promoting and exploiting them for their own gain. If one scapegoat gets away, there will always be another to take its place. In fact, there is no shortage of replacements for the fading attack on gay rights.
One of the newer sources of potential conflict is the religious right’s novel idea of “religious liberty”. Religious freedom used to mean freedom from having other people impose their religion on you. Now, it apparently means the freedom to impose your religion on others.
WOW! That perverts language, history, and declares war all in two paragraphs. “Religious freedom used to mean…,” well if “used” extends back no farther than 1963 or so, perhaps, but religious freedom as it was coined in the United States, and Britain for that matter, was about PRACTICE of religion – that we are free to practice our faith. And yet we find our freedom of practice curtailed everyday in things like the HHS mandate, and you know it is not going to be long before states where same-sex marriage is legal are going to force churches to perform same-sex ceremonies in the name of equality.
Which brings me to this little number from The American Conservative:
Mike Huckabee warns that if the GOP caves on same-sex marriage, Evangelicals will walk. I don’t believe it. This is an empty threat. Huckabee and I are on the same side of the SSM question, so for “Evangelicals” you might as well substitute “social conservatives.” I think very few of us will abandon the Republican Party over this issue. Why would we, given the alternative would be a Democratic Party that’s more hostile to our values and concerns?
If he’s talking about Evangelicals and other social conservatives walking away from political engagement within the GOP, and on behalf of GOP candidates, he may have a point. If they decide that the party has surrendered on the issues that are most important to them, that can’t help but reduce enthusiasm and engagement. It’s not quite the same thing, but in the wake of the Iraq War and the economic crash, and the subsequent inability of the Republican Party to do anything but double down on its ideology, I quit identifying as a Republican, changed my registration to Independent, and now consider myself simply a conservative. I am more likely to vote Republican than Democrat, given my convictions, but I’m not nearly the automatic Republican vote that I used to be, while also not becoming enthusiastic in the least about Democrats.
Point is, the GOP alienated me from politics in general. The only reason I retain a likelihood to vote Republican for national office is over social issues, especially same-sex marriage and abortion and, relatedly, religious liberty. If the GOP gives these up, there will be no strong reason at all for me — or the group Thomas Kidd calls “paleo-Evangelicals” — to privilege voting Republican over Democratic.
That’s called “quitting” folks- and reflects a gross misunderstanding of how the nation works. If the GOP is “caving” then it is because that is where the consensus lies. And if that is where the consensus lies then we have failed the nation in so many ways. We have failed to convince the nation of the correctness of our stance. Which takes me back to excellence. If we were excellent in education, excellent in argumentation, excellent in evangelism and excellent in political engagement, then the consensus would be in our direction. But rather than try to get excellent in those things, by say diving into the party and working harder and better to make it represent our views, we pout and run home.
There is some deep sociological and eccesiological stuff at play here. I need to explore it more before I wirte about it at length, but the Evangelical church does very little of what the church has done historically – it is church reduced. Subsequently, many in Evangelical circles have moved to other places to try an exercise that stuff, the GOP being amongst them. But the GOP has a stated purpose and it is not to do some of the things the church is supposed to do. This kind of disappointment in the GOP is really disappointment in the church. At least that’s my theory at the moment, as I say, need to explore it a bit more.
But in the meantime what is obvious is we HAVE to engage or we are going to lose. We are being assaulted not just on our religion, but on our simple common sense. Can’t we at least stand up and fight back for common sense?