My post Duggars are Not Crazy caused quite the stir. It was mentioned on Freethought Blogs, The American Conservative, and The Dish as well as a few small personal blogs. From the commenting sections both here, there, and over at Homeschoolers Anonymous and No Longer Quivering, I noticed four reactions.
1) OMG I GET LANA. These were the homeschool moms who were once drawn to conservative homeschooling for the reasons I mentioned (such as community). Or other homeschool students or ACE students or ex-IFBers who remembered. Or just whoever. These were the OOMG, yea, Lana is right. None of these people said, “oh, fundamentalism kept it’s promise.” Just yea, it was appealing.
2) Heck, we non-fundies need to think more about community. Because it’s true. Join a homeschool group, and you get a network, borrowing that you fit the conservative idea. What should others do, these bloggers asked?
3) I’m an atheist, and we do have community. To those folks, I say all hale to you. Maybe we should meet up for tea and learn from these folks, yea?
4) Sorry, Lana, the Duggars are completely insane.
Now, it was the last folks who made me go, oops, missed my point.
So today I thought I’d go back to the drawing the board. We’ll talk about why postmodernism is incapatable with fundamentalism, but also why secular communities can be assholes, too. Not that most secular individuals are assholes. Most aren’t. But why the problem is, well, bad ideology, not religion and not atheism.
It works like this.
We all want a chorent, clear, narrative. Or maybe we all don’t. But modernists do. So what we do is create a big umbrella narrative, such as a national narrative or a fundamental-evangelical Christian narrative. Or whatever. Then we stuff everybody else into our worldview. Think of this like a big circle stuffed with people.
This narrative is protected by many things. 1) A history – a point of origin (the beginning of creation) or the cross (when Jesus died) 2) a book (the Bible) 3) authority (church leaders; husbands/fathers).
Of course, in order for this worldview to work, those who don’t fit our worldview must adopt our ways, which means gays must not have sex, and those who don’t have authority must sit in the church pews. It also causes violence when we protect the doctrine at all cost, which is what we saw during the 30 years war in Europe, etc.
At this point, all the non-fundies are quick to say, “Yea, silly Christians.” But here’s the thing: our whole nation did this. exact. same thing. Take away the church, and make it, say a university or government system, and make the circle equal to a national identity, unitied together for the sake of progress.
This identity is protect by 1) A history – a point of origin (the first settlers arrived) 2) our sacred documents (Declaration of ndependence/American Constitution) and 3) authority (university systems, government systems, bankers, the rich). <–even our textbooks are funneled from the university system, for example.
Of course, in order for this sytem to work, which we justify in the name of “progress,” other people are forced to adopt our ways. So the First Nation People had to adopt our identity and go through our schools. (They don’t even get a history because they are “prehistoric.”) This system causes biogtry (we can’t have gays because they won’t grow our economy. See Libby Anne’s brilliant post and diagrams), and violence. We can stand up South to North and murder each other (except we don’t call it murder) in order to protect the American identity.
Now obviously, we’ve expanded the circle. We’ve awoke from our slumber and realized gays can raise kids, too. We’ve decided that “all men are created equal” means people of color and women, too. But underneath it all, I see a society fixated on authority structures to give us our identity and give us our knowledge.
A health response, whether you are Christian or secular is shared space.
This system recongizes that all that we know should be shared. Learning isn’t top to bottom; it’s friend to friend. Life together isn’t top to bottom; it’s friend to friend. Sure, some of us have learned more about a particular discipline than others, but still, I’ll never know everything, nor do I own my own knowledge because I borrowed my knowledge from other people.
But see, these choherent worldviews (that really aren’t coherent if you think about the blood and all the outcasts) operate on the assumption that experts own the knowledge and must guard the knowledge, that we need them to guard the knowledge in order to protect the national identity. It justifies bigotry, racism, classism, sexism, and even violence. It rewrites history, making the violence part of the identity, part of the story.
This is why I’m a follower of Jesus even if I don’t always know what I think of Christianity. Jesus tore down authority structures, laid down his life, rebelled against the holy laws, told us to love our neighbor, and throw away everything that was once defining and giving meaning to our lives. When Jesus said this, he was a postmodernists. Morever, when he was hanging on the cross, he looked at the sinner and said, “hey, you are coming with me to paradise.” In other words, he was opening up the shared space, getting beneath us, in order to change our paradigm about authority.
I don’t think you need to be a follower of Jesus to agree with me. Most secular young people today have gotten the idea that biogtry is wrong, and they have already realized that instead of expanding the circle, we need to tear it down. But I think we all – myself included – need to take this more seriously than just accepting our gay neighbor. For example:
We need to rethink public verse private lives because do we need to protect our public authority, really? Teachers need to rethink how they approach their students because their knowledge was borrowed and because students come to the table with knowledge too. Journalists need to rethink who are real experts when they interview people. When we watch TV, we need to be careful at how we take what they are saying as truth just because they are an “expert.”
We need to stop and realize that our history has given us priviledges.
We need to consciously decenter ourselves and realize everything we know is shared space.
We must not priviledge our difference. We don’t come to the table with “I’m the expert, you aren’t.”
We need to think twice before we appeal to authority, even in parenting.
When we love our neighbor, we need to think about how we can respect our neighbor, too.
As I said, this is a radical approach to relationships that if taken seriously opens up a world of possibilities when we share knowledge, share history, and share values. Postmodernism has opened up this question of possibilities. Now we need to ask ourselves, what are we going to do with it?
If you want to call the Duggars crazy, be my guest. But please realize that our society has the same wine with different labels.
For more reading, I recommend Foucault’s works, especially this one. Nothing in this post is original.