The Taylor Swift Option
Regardless of our intentions, our denunciations of the spirit of our age invariably take on the atmosphere of fear, anxiety, and resentment that has suffused evangelicalism’s political life for the past 30 years. The first task, then, is to purge ourselves of such affections and passions and establish the evangelical political witness on a new foundation. Such fear and resentment cannot be simply verbally repudiated; they must be expunged, rooted out and replaced by a hope that is less spoken of directly and more felt, a hope that we do not name but that permeates and suffuses our response to culture war conflicts. Such good cheer must be hearty, for Christ hath made our hearts glad — and he is waiting for our political discourse to someday catch up.
Second, with this gladness I would commend a deflationary attitude toward those grand narratives of decline and to the day-to-day disputes and dramas that we think embody them. If the West is dying….so? If we are all going to be bigots, well, we might as well get on with it and become likeable bigots. If “marginalization” or “dhimmitude” are the new form of persecution, I for one will happily take it over many of the alternatives. The sooner we turn such instruments of stigma into pieces of art, the sooner we will begin actually resisting the very ideology we claim to be. As the prophet Taylor Swift hath said unto us, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate….you just gotta shake, shake, shake…”
Taking a deflationary stance toward such cultural dramas and inculcating ourselves with a sanctified indifference to them will happen only if we saturate our lives with more obligations to our immediate neighbors than we can possibly fulfill. If we do need thicker communal ties in order to discover and transmit virtue, I fail to see how they can be had when our time is directed toward neighbors far away, through the internet, and the majority of our emotional energy is consumed by conflicts that have no immediate bearing on our lives. The culture war will someday touch us all — but it hasn’t yet, and if our own lives were more entangled with the lives of those in need who we can see face-to-face, its hastening may be delayed longer than we expect.