Here’s one we missed: among the year-end top-ten lists was Paul Wallace’s list of “Top Ten Peacemakers in the Science-Religion Wars” at Religion Dispatches.
Looking back at 2011, Wallace offered this cheering prediction:
“This year has marked, I believe, the beginning of the end of the war between science and religion. Creationism cannot last. The New Atheists are now getting old. And between these camps the middle ground continues to expand.”
We missed Wallace’s list at the time. Looking back at the progress of 2012 so far, it doesn’t seem as if the culture wars have abated noticeably. But perhaps we need to look more at trends than headlines. As one of Wallace’s top-ten peacemakers, Rachel Held Evans, put it,
“My generation of evangelicals is ready to call a truce on the culture wars. It seems like our parents, our pastors, and the media won’t let us do that. We are ready to be done with the whole evolution-creation debate. We are ready to move on.”
The goal at ILYBYGTH has always been to promote a true and lasting peace in these culture wars, not merely an angry and demilitarized standoff. A more profound and sympathetic understanding of Fundamentalist America among us outsiders could lead to a greater willingness to work together. Or at least to an ability to understand what the other side is saying.
Was Wallace right? Has 2012 produced a new crop of peace-makers? It is not too difficult, after all, to stretch beyond Wallace’s list to point out other hopeful signs of a new generation of writers and activists willing to reach across the cultural trenches to work with the other side. Just a few that have attracted wide notice lately:
- Jonathan Haidt’s Righteous Mind;
- Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse’s call for Civility in Argument;
- John Corvino’s and Maggie Gallagher’s civil debate over Same-Sex Marriage.
Starting long before Pat Buchanan’s famous 1992 invocation of the “culture-wars,” it has seemed that the boldest headlines have been made by those who attack their opponents relentlessly. Perhaps we can see here a broadening of interest in the peaceable middle, those who want to speak civilly and productively with those on the opposite sides of these culture-war trenches. One can always hope.