A NEW DIRECTION

Dear Readers,

I’m not trying to be funny when I announce that I Love You But You’re Going to Hell has evolved.  I began this project as an exploration of both sides of America’s culture wars, but in the process, I’ve discovered that I and most of my readers are more interested in a different question.  The most interesting part of these writings, for me, has been the analysis and explication of the ideas of the conservative side of these cultural battles.

In past posts, I’ve attempted to imagine the best arguments of both pro- and anti-evolution thinkers.  I’ve imagined arguments explaining the case for progressive and traditionalist education.  When I’ve argued pro-evolution and pro-progressive education, though, I feel too much proximity to each one to make it interesting.  I AM a pro-evolutionist and a progressive educator.  So laying out those arguments has not been as interesting or as challenging to me as trying to imagine what the other side would say.  I am confident that my arguments have not been as coherent or convincing as lots of other writers out there.

Plus, as the blog has progressed, it seems as if most of the readers and contributors feel the same way.  The interesting parts have not been about the arguments for evolution or for progressive schools.  As one reviewer noted, “The pro-evolution stuff we already know, but the underpinnings of the creationist stuff could be interesting.” The most interesting questions have become: How could intelligent, educated people fight for more traditional schools?  How could they fight against the teaching of evolution in those schools?  Why is the Bible so important to Fundamentalists?  Why do they care if I’m gay?  Etc.

In recognition of these developments, I am changing the approach of I Love You But You’re Going To Hell.  Instead of exploring both sides of these culture-war issues, I’ll focus on trying to make sense out of the conservative side.  To reflect this change, I’ll take the bold step of revising my subtitle.  The original subtitle was: A Primer for Peaceful Coexistence in an Age of Culture Wars.  I’m still for peaceful coexistence.  But in order to help that come about, I’ll articulate the ideas of the conservative side to those from the progressive side.  My hope will remain: if each side can recognize that intelligent people of good will can hold these ideas in good faith, perhaps we can all work together more peacefully and productively.  So my new subtitle will be: An Outsider’s Guide to Fundamentalist America.

Like it?  I hope you do.  I invite you to keep on reading and commenting as I focus exclusively on what makes Fundamentalists tick.

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6 Comments

  1. Ed Brandt

     /  February 6, 2012

    Love it! The new subtitle really does reflect your (I believe unintentional) approach.

    I must say, though, I don’t envy you and your task. “Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it!” is the most common refrain I get from the religious righties that I debate. It’s really impossible to argue facts when blind faith is your guide.

    Most recent example: Some of my religious Facebook friends were excited by Madonna’s lip-synching techno-disaster of a halftime show, simply because she sang “Like a Prayer.” Forget she made her fortune with the cones on the breasts or the “Sex” book or grabbing her crotch. She sang about God and had a Jesus chorus with Cee Lo (whose biggest hit was “F*** You.”)! It was “inspiring” and “uplifting” and “she brought the Lord to the Superbowl.” I mean, she is named after a character in the Bible, and I guess they needed something after Jesus forsook Tebow.

    Then there’s the “controversy” over Alaska Airlines dropping their prayer cards from the first-class meals. I’ve always sort of figured if you can afford first class, you can afford your own $2.95 travel Bible. But up until now, Alaska Airlines figured it was a good business to appeal to the fundamentalists whenever possible, because when the rest of us are confronted by scripture we are trained to “turn the other cheek.” (I’m not sure exactly what changed their minds, but I’m guessing the warehouse finally ran out of cards and the bean counters freaked out when they pencilled-out the price of a new printing.)

    Yes, it is a culture war.

    Keep up the good work, Adam. I enjoy your insights and your writing, and I still think “I Love You But You’re Going to Hell” is the greatest single title in the history of the blogosphere.

    Reply
  2. Ed,
    Thanks for the endorsement!
    It’s funny, as I was watching the Madonna spectacle I couldn’t help noticing (and commenting on to my patient wife) the sheer Old Testament depravity of her show. She had some weird kind of Egyptian/Roman/Mithra/Penis thing going on throughout most of the parts that I watched. I couldn’t help hearing a Fundamentalist voice in my head (not literally) concluding that here was more proof that America had become the land of the Beast. Every false god will be worshipped, if only as part of one more over-the-top spectacle to cram down the stuffed gullets of a decadent and diabetic nation.

    Reply
  3. Liz

     /  February 11, 2012

    I love this direction! For me, watching the Republican primary has been a frustrating and sad experience. But I see the need for the self-proclaimed open-minded (that’s me) to try to actually be open-minded and understand first, what exactly some of the nut-jobs – I mean candidates & Fox newsies – are saying, and second to understand where this stuff is coming from. Today, for example, I’m all steamed up about the fight against gay marriage. California’s prop 8 is headed to the Supreme Court. Really???? So, if in the end, I want to help persuade conservatives to accept and understand homosexuality, then maybe I need to understand what it is conservatives are all twisted up about. Or then maybe if I can understand them better, I’ll be content with the fact that I can’t change their minds, but there is some deep-rooted, historical, religious, cultural reasons for their rhetoric, and they’re not just a bunch of mean, hateful, bigots.

    Reply
    • Liz,
      I’m with you. For me, it seems very obviously true that being gay is one way to be, just like being Asian or left-handed. But the furor over it makes me assume I’m not understanding something. SOME of the people who are so anti-gay rights must just be jerks, just as some slice of every group are jerks. But there are enough people against gay rights that SOME of them must be well-intentioned and intelligent. So how can they think this way? That is the research question that really interests me.
      Thanks for chiming in…

      Reply
      • Ed Brandt

         /  February 11, 2012

        Being gay is fine, but don’t get me started on left-handed Asians.

        A large part of the issue is we fear what we don’t understand. It’s been my experience that most people who are rabidly anti-gay don’t know any gay people (or more accurately, don’t know that they probably know some gay people who they don’t know are gay).

        If people build relationships only with others who are exactly like themselves, it limits their compassion. I once knew a guy for years without realizing he was a White Sox fan (though he must have know I am a Cubs fan, as half my wardrobe is Cubs, the other half Springsteen). Had I learned that fact in the beginning, I probably would have avoided him altogether. As it is, he learned not to roll his eyes when I said, “Just wait until next year,” and I learned not to make a comment every time one of his favorite players got in trouble with the law.

  4. @Ed, Right on. I think part of what got me thinking about this kind of blog was my experiences when I first started doing academic research into conservative Protestantism. I met for the first time people who were smart, well-educated, and funny, yet who also believed fervently in the inerrancy of the Bible. They didn’t find Family Guy jokes about Jesus funny, the way I thought every funny person must.
    I assume the flip side must be true as well. When people think that “gay-ness” is only something they’d find in far away places among strangely dressed hipsters, they are scared of much more than just a sexual orientation. Maybe we could call this the Dick Cheney effect: when we actually meet and know people we hold stereotyped ideas about, it tends to break down those stereotypes.
    But here’s one exception: the most openly racist white people I’ve met are the ones who actually live near and work with large numbers of black people. You don’t find groups of white skinheads in fancy suburban high schools, for example.

    Reply

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