A Prelude to the Culture Wars
Contributed by Dr. Robert Beebe in preparation for the upcoming ‘Culture Wars’ 2-day workshop on January 14-15, 2017 at East Garden. Read about the first Culture Wars event that took place last September in Clifton, NJ.
As a ‘youngish’ member of the Unification Movement in the midst of the Cold War in the 1980s, I became involved in the CAUSA project. This project brought together clergy, educators and political figures, to study a “Critique and Counterproposal to Marxist Ideology” which held sway at that time on college campuses throughout America.
At the same time, CARP was actively involved in confronting leftist agitators who sought to undermine America’s fight against communism throughout the world. Rather than being simply anti-communist, CAUSA offered a Principled perspective known as “Godism” or “Headwing Thought.”
This perspective addressed the underlying issues that made communism attractive to many people while also demonstrating communism’s inability to fundamentally solve these issues. It then went on to present a God-centered approach that dealt more fundamentally with these problems. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Cold War came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Today’s Challenge: the Culture Wars
Today we face an ideological conflict just as severe. The expression culture wars was coined by James Davison Hunter in 1991 in his publication, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. America again has become a battleground where a “progressive” secular humanist view of life is in conflict with a God-centered, faith-based view of life.
Our recent presidential election was in part a reflection of this divide, which seems to be growing year-by-year. A unifying perspective is desperately needed.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon anticipated this situation in his speeches, such as his address at the 20th anniversary of the Washington Times in 2002:
…The mission of The Washington Times, however, was not finished with the end of the Cold War. The fall of communism did not automatically lead to world peace, nor did it mean that the ideal society that God desires would establish itself without any further effort on our part. Accordingly, during The Washington Times’ second decade (1992-2002) it had to rise to a new challenge – that of the “Cultural War,” or the fight against the degradation of values.
God desired that America maintain its traditional family and moral values, which had fallen into confusion. Secular humanism and extreme individualism and selfishness were on the rise. As a result, money and material goods have become “gods” to people in terms of their values. This has led to the decline of religion and the rise of secular humanism, which have led to the breakdown of families and raised juvenile delinquency…
Thus, ten years ago, at the 10th anniversary celebration for The Times, I defined another mission for the media. This is the need for media to promote ethics and moral values in our society. For its second ten years, I envisioned for The Washington Times the task of contributing to bringing about a moral society.
The culture wars are in essence a spiritual, moral battle, a “fight against the degradation of values.” It is no accident that this has been accompanied by an attack on religion, Christianity in particular. Christians who stand for traditional values, such as marriage defined between a man and a woman, are being characterized as bigots and hate-mongers.
There is a concerted effort to force people to go against their deeply-held beliefs, or face dire consequences. Bakers, florists, photographers, and others, have had to face stiff fines, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and have even gone out of business for refusing to service same-sex weddings.
Today’s culture wars are an extension of a trend over the last several hundred years as outlined in the Divine Principle in which Cain and Abel views of life developed and manifested themselves in the spheres of philosophy, politics, and economics. The Divine Principle itself, written as it was during the Cold War period, identifies communism as but the latest expression of the Cain-type view of life.
The effective demise of communism may have ended the Cold War; however, the secular forces which led to its advent have not. These forces find their root in the Cain-type view of life: perpetuated by resentment, anger, envy, hurt feelings, and rebellion against God. It began, as it did with Cain and the archangel Lucifer before him, with a feeling of lack of love.
The Essence of the Culture Wars
The mantras of the Left — gay rights, marriage equality, gender identity, reproductive rights — all arise out of a desire to find the happiness that its proponents perceive have been denied them by the dominant Christian culture.
To the Left, sincerely held religious beliefs on matters of sexuality, childbearing, and marriage are in reality simply manifestations of discrimination towards those who feel and act differently. The church must change its views to accommodate the “new” morality rather than leftist individuals change their lifestyles to accord with traditional religious beliefs.
In the culture wars, as it was with the Cold War, there is no middle ground. The West’s attempt at coexistence, as seen by the failure of détente in the 1970s, went nowhere because in the end, communism was not interested in compromise. Its goal was world domination.
Similarly, in the culture wars, the Left has shown no interest in accommodating the beliefs and values of Christians. Its goal is a complete subjugation of what it regards as an antiquated worldview.
Wherein lies the resolution to this conflict? The outcome of the Cold War offers us a clue.
Communism finally collapsed of its own accord when the masses living under its system realized that the propaganda they had been subjected to throughout their lives would never deliver on its promise of a workers’ paradise.
Rather they began to long for what the West offered in terms of individual freedoms and material wealth. Despite its issues, the West had already achieved what the communist system could only continue to promise.
Winning the Culture Wars
The culture wars cannot be won by mere intellectual arguments alone. Pointing out the wrongs of communism was never sufficient to bring about its downfall. It fell because the West offered something more attractive.
Supporters of the causes celebrated by the Left will never be won over by more convincing arguments, especially not by those rooted in religious beliefs. Only by realizing that the driving force of these causes are resentments and anger rooted in feelings of lack of love can we begin to understand the path to a lasting resolution.
We best convince advocates and practitioners of this new morality’s deception not by standing defiantly against it but by demonstrating a better path to the happiness that everyone seeks.
Building loving marriages as the basis for happy families and healthy children creates an attractive alternative that over time will draw people out of lifestyles that ultimately do not lead to the promised land of true and lasting happiness.
But more can and should be done. As Rev. Moon always spoke about, we must practice true love and live for the sake of others. As Jesus said, we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you, as we must expect those on the other side of the cultural divide will do for a long time to come.
This is not naïve idealism. The success of the civil rights movement in transforming racist attitudes in the 1960s was largely due to its adherents practicing forgiving love in the face of sometimes vicious attacks.
“Love trumps hate” is one mantra of the Left with which we can agree.