“Do Not Be A Stupid Idiot!”: Religion and Resentment

Picking on commentary from WND (formerly WorldNet Daily) is about the easiest job in all of blogging. There is always something egregiously awful to take apart there. You could spend your whole career pointing out and correcting the errors in column after column—which is exactly why most people who don’t buy into the WND perspective simply mock and move on.

But something about this piece by Linda Harvey caught my attention.. Lord knows it gives plenty of fuel to the “what the hell are they on about” fire. The piece—”Sodom, We Have a Problem”—is all over the place, from the decline of mainline Protestantism to same-sex marriage to acceptance of the transgender community to supposedly neo-pagan feminism and labyrinths in Christian churches, bisexuality and Rev. Debra Haffner, Planned Parenthood and the Boy Scouts and government debt and immigration and “race riots.”

Did I leave anything out?

Harvey probably intends this to be a comprehensive take on the spiritual depravity of liberal values, but it’s difficult not to read it as a laundry list of complaints from people who resent the loss of a privileged, traditional heterosexuality.

And here’s where it gets interesting: it would be easy to assume that these people are resentful because of  this long list of outrages they feel they’ve suffered, but the truth is perhaps the other way around. They have compiled the list because they feel resentment. And what do they resent? I think it’s the loss of a social pecking order.

We are approaching a point in both demographics and culture where no one group can set social norms. It seems likely that Harvey’s brand of the politics of resentment will only increase—from all sides.

As America diversifies, the rhetoric of resentment might be the new normal, as different groups and coalitions slug it out. If nobody’s on top, everybody’s angry. And as religious institutions weaken, their traditional role of putting a damper on social conflict becomes less effective.

It seems simplistic to say that Harvey’s answer to this situation is a return to conservative straight white cultural hegemony, but that’s pretty much it. She concludes:

This is what liberals do. The writing on the wall spells out clear warnings: “Do not be a stupid idiot!” “Run for your lives!” But they don’t care. This is not progress. This is regress…Only delusional people rip their lives apart so completely and intentionally. The left is lost, even as they declare “victory.” May God help them – and all of us.

That’s pretty much her argument in a nutshell: that what the left defines as progress is exactly the opposite, and they’re insane to think otherwise.

You can say she’s wrong, and I do. But the more interesting question is if she’s unintentionally pointed to what everyone’s going to be fighting about in religious discourse for the next few decades.

May God help all of us, indeed.

7 Comments

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Don’t worry about it too much. It kind of sounds like when Tariq Aziz was on the news every night declaring all their victories over the US forces, and as the end drew near their daily victories became increasingly glorious.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    No surprises here. Ordinary white men who feel that they are not given deference by independent women and by other races, ordinary white women who feel resentment that they are now held financially responsible for themselves rather than being able to stay at home with a male earner making a good family-supporting salary – these are the people who have lost most in perceived status – though they don’t recognize that the people gaining that status are wealthier white men and women, not the independent women and the other races. As long as acknowledgement of the functions of class is tarred as “communistic”, most people will vent resentment “downward” rather than at the high level crooks in the financial industry, politicians who give their major donors non-competitive inflated contracts, etc.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    I agree about the loss of white priviledge and resentment. I wish we knew more about the “why”; the question of why people’s brains can operate in a fixed fear of life’s changes -evolution if you like. Hold this picture up with those who seem to adapt to changes and beliefs. In the last months prior to Obama’s first election to POTUS, I heard a prominant theologian state there is a greening of America occurring, but the pushback would also be at its worst- the darkest before the dawn. To me though, the dinosaurs of evil power are withering away, however slowly. The struggle is long but we kept going. Having hope and love helps.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    Status is always relative. Any change that requires a person to exert more effort to maintain relative status will be resented. People fear change because they may lose status.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    Yeas in part but I think there is much more to it. I’ve read there are 3rd world socities that don’t respond in culture the way we do.
    is it that they are more in tune to the cycles of the earth, i.e. natural environment? We should not say those cultures do not change as rapidly. Wind, floods, nature, etc are elements they must incorporate into their lives.
    Maybe their spiritual beliefs are the key. Example: The New Zealand Book of Common Prayer contains the amazing and beautiful spiritual language of the Maori. I prefer it more than my U.S / Anglican Book of Common Prayer for the same reasons stated above.

  • d.delong@peoplepc.com' David DeLong says:

    I think you’re on to something. Really, the assault on “traditional” sexuality and religiosity is coming from within. It’s the “family values” people who are being caught having affairs, looking at porn, etc. They’re the ones whose “faith” can’t handle the theory of evolution, constructing a house of cards of fabulous articles of faith, exorcising their own doubt with authoritarian prescriptions for others. They externalize their doubt and project it onto others, and their panderers sow fear and loathing to leverage for power and money.

  • bw40ny@gmail.com' Bee Wald says:

    This article made me realize that people who are different from others have gained the courage in the past decade to stand out. In my opinion, that matters a lot. Therefore, no group of people should create a cultural norm because nothing and no one is normal. A group of people should not define themselves strictly, but let others be unique.

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