A car bumper sticker reads: I am straight but not narrow.
Translation for my (past) generation: the vehicle owner considers him/her comfortably heterosexual – but it’s clearly not preferable to homosexual relationships. They are equal in every way.
Merely walking pass the vehicle on Westmoreland Ave., Richmond, VA produced interruption. Contemplating the slogan, I considered it a materialized position from a very inclusive person….possibly bereft of the gradualism that formulated its conclusion. The exercise: Temptation – to Tolerance – to Approval.
Born in the late 1930’s has its snags….particularly in 21st century America. We, in our sunset years, enjoy figuring those trails taken to discover an origin – where such reasoning emanates.
The next step – a short hop: persuading everyone that all cultures are totally equal, period. Madly, reexamining issues can lead to cultural drift, sag; it even may not be effective in eliminating those who reflect quite differently. As self-constructed towers of distort and misinformation, we’re likely t draw upon our human passions – dismissing all else.
Then it hit me: Dr. J. Budziszewski…Yale graduate, Associate Professor, Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas.
His book, “The Revenge of Conscience”, came to my attention while preparing a Religion in America series for Mills Godwin High School’s Advance Placement History classes, late 1990’s. I found Revenge to be preferable, highly readable in our continuous national rebellion against authority.
Briefly, Budziszewski’s fundamental thesis (Christian) was the underlying cause of the numerous battle grounds in our modern “culture wars”; it harks back to mankind’s Fall (sin). That is, our uninterrupted reluctance to face realities and consequences of that Fall – by our actions. As Steven R. Seim wrote, “this book sets forth perhaps the most convincing Christian answer to modern psychology.” Our repression of primal urges, which is necessary for civil society, is also the source of psychological quirks and personal emotional suffering.
It was Budziszewski’s thesis that Man from the Christian point of view was created in God’s image. He asserted one’s inner nature is dominated by an innate knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil (i.e. natural law or “conscience”). That natural knowledge confronts man’s guilt, provoking attempts to repress it.
Abortion is an immense example – always tantalizing, generating repeated values tantrums. It’s full of contradictions. Those who call abortion wrong…call it killing. Those who call it killing…say it kills a baby. Most who call it killing a baby…decline to prohibit it? Most who decline to prohibit it…think it should be restricted. More and more people favor restrictions. Alas, greater and greater numbers of people have had or have been involved in abortions…43 million abortions since 1973.
If abortion kills a baby then it ought to be banned to everyone? But if it doesn’t kill a baby, it is hard to see why they should be uneasy about it at all…why the restrictions? Is it because we restrict what we allow because we know it is wrong, but refuse to give it up? Seemingly we feed our “heart scraps” in hopes of hushing them, making them disappear.
Is the cultural decline (for us who observe it) choice, not cognitive, seems to heavily prevail – has little to do with knowledge? It is clear (to me) we DO KNOW right from wrong, but wish we didn’t. We delude ourselves in only making believe we are searching for truth…so that we can do wrong, condone wrong, or suppress our remorse for having done wrong in the past. The Revenge of Conscience views our acquired decline, not to moral ignorance, but to moral suppression. We are not untutored, but “in denial.” We do not lack moral knowledge…we hold it DOWN. Wrestling with values is stormy.
Relativism is simply not an explanation of our decline…just a symptom of it. The reason is easy: it cannot be an explanation if it finds nothing to explain. To the question “Why do things get worse so fast?” it can only return “They don’t get worse, only different”… a total license to steal.
In my mind we may have started by neglecting what we knew, but we have now gone so far that we really don’t know the approach any longer. Not knowing can be engaging. We are blameless, in a sense, for our deeds, for we don’t know any better. For me, it becomes cringeworthy. Serious sussing it out brings social discouragement.
I am straight but not narrow….it’s astonishing what a 21st century auto bumper strip will spawn when a gradualist prevails.
Ray Wallace’s book, ESSEX MEMORIES & BEYOND, is now on sale…learn life’s frailties in 1940’s – 50’s Virginia.