We’re all nostalgic, thinking about the “good ole days” or the great experiences once had bringing about ecstasy, never able to be repeated again since the present is all there is. Nostalgia is a beauty, but she can also be a beast.
I’ve often said (not in this forum) that the Western world, our civilization is a direct product of the Enlightenment, not our Christian heritage; but I might have been wrong on that. I never really considered the deep influence the two world wars have left us with.
They devastated any idea of human progress towards betterment, and science, the first thought great hero, only advanced our impulse for mass destruction. Atomic weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons. The ABC of human death.
After the war, WWII that is, a new conscience was born. No more war. Never again. (The U.S. was deeply involved, certainly, but never experienced that total destruction that Europe endured. Every old person there today can recount the ashes, my grandma included… and the sheer terror when hearing sirens, reminding her of the Dresden bombings, when even the concrete lit up in flames and every person there was reduced to nothing. Napalm Death.)
The generation that saw the war was simply happy that it was over. Life went on as it did before. The 50’s came, and a sort of “normality” and peace that had been so longed for returned. But then the kids grew up, and the 60’s arrived, ushering in all that “new madness” that had no place in and out of anything.
When speaking of Conservatism today, it is directly related to WWII and 50’s, not any time before, not any time after. The time before is unknown, or at least “irrelevant”, as it did not, could not, anticipate the atrocities to be committed. The time after, certainly, is not “conservative”.
Conservatism is a good thing. It doesn’t rush into things, it’s content if things are working, it’s just plain common sense on a certain level. But Conservatism does have a terrible streak: dogmatism.
Dogmatism can be found anywhere, not just the Conservatives, but it does have a nostalgic ring to it when it goes there.
“The good old times… when the world was still ok and everything was in order…” ... Nothing was in order. It’s the nostalgic pain that finally the madness had receded and it was ok to live without fearing to be killed whenever by whoever arrived in town.
Unfortunately, this nostalgic coziness has turned into an ideal. An ideal representing nothing but dreams unreflective of any reality. In Europe, these ideals are represented by old-school conservatives that do have a point, sometimes, but I often reek nationalism within these points. In the U.S. it is much more religious. Nationalism is a given, although a far cry from European nationalism, as the U.S. is certainly anything but ethnically homogeneous. When it comes to these ideals, it seems as if “the Bible has been guiding us all along… and now we wanna get rid of it…”. It’s horrible! Whenever this kind of whining is on TV I cannot but change the channel.
The fear of the unknown is what has driven human beings for as long as they existed. What conquers that fear? Knowledge. Lightning strikes are not nearly as frightening as they used to be once we understood what they are and how to divert them. But science is slow, and many issues remain untouched.
I consider society one of those issues. It is such a great thing to see how far we have come. The abolition of slavery, women’s right, homosexual acceptance… but it’s still always a “fight”. It ain’t just accepted.
I was just reading an article in Christianity Today magazine, a magazine I consider fairly good; but when I read the quote of a certain pastor I nearly threw up. Here’s the quote:
Whether mentioned in Scripture or not, the transgender movement clashes with traditional Christian theology that teaches the only God-given expression of human sexuality is between a man and woman who are married. “Transgender impulses are strong, but they don’t match up with the Christian sexual ethic,” says Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. “Desires must be brought into alignment with biblical teachings, but it will be inconvenient and distressful.”
Throckmorton, past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, says he has advised transgendered people who are in absolute agony over their state. Typically, such individuals are desperately in search of hope and acceptance, he says. It may be uncomfortable to tell transgendered individuals that their desires don’t align with the Bible, Throckmorton says, but pastors must do so. “Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,” Throckmorton says, “even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.”
It will be “inconvenient and distressful”... and “even if science does [...] we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings”.
This is the most extreme comment I’ve ever read. Nothing really matters, except the interpretation of an ancient book. Never mind that the suicide rate among transgendered youth is about 50%. These sorts of ideas leave me breathless and argumentless. What can you say to this?
I seem to have diverted here, from a text on Western Conservatism after WWII to a Christian comment on transsexuality. Well, I did divert, but I needed to make that point, getting back to it in a second.
Conservative Nostalgia, as I like to call it, is not an isolated phenomenon. It prides itself on reason and pragmatism and realism… but in reality, it’s just “the fear of the dark”. It does have a lot of wisdom for humanity to draw on, especially the wars and what was learned, but it refuses to go further, wanting to remain in the foxhole even though the shells are no longer coming.
I have many conservative friends, and they mean well, but whenever things go “overboard” I don’t detect a disagreement so much as an element of fear. The fear of the unknown. To me: the fear of beauty. Human life is beauty, can be beauty, can be beautiful. To keep it locked up makes it wither, and very ugly.
In regard to the mentioned quote, it is, unfortunately, mainly Christian thinkers, and good ones, that consistently undermine any sort of progress, be that scientifically or psychologically or sociologically or whatever, to preserve their favorite form of theology. It’s very frustrating as many people would otherwise be very open.
In regard to my transsexuality, I have not yet had any bad experiences. “Thank God.” People are a lot more accepting and loving than I would ever have imagined. (Although I’m aware that this might not remain the constant.) But just to get back to that article, the end result of it was not bad, Christians should accept the transgendered, which is a very large step… but in the end we are only accepted if we see ourselves as sinners and wrong but forgiven, returning to the same old chains.
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind returning to a church with open arms, loving me as I am. But before I am made to change back to what I was I will blow my brains out first.
I love the nostalgic. I love beauty. I love weeping flowers. It’s much easier to live today than a hundred years ago. It’s still not accepted everywhere to simply be. It takes time for beauty to envelope the planet, and human diversity is nothing short of it, beauty that is.