French Postmodern Chickens Come Home to Roost

It is hard to imagine that France, long considered the most leftist-liberal of European countries would be concerned about growing leftist-liberalism in America. 

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French Postmodern Chickens Come Home to Roost

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Recently, a New York Times article quoted a French government official as saying, “There’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities.’’ The article went on to explain that “prominent [French] intellectuals have banded together against what they regard as contamination by the out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses and its attendant cancel culture.”

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Live Not by Lies

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Today’s BreakPoint: Live Not by Lies

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…Weiss describes a growing and institutionally enforced anti-Semitism, and proceeds to list a series of incidents that she says cannot be accurately understood as isolated, but instead as an essential and insidious component of the new liberalism, a “mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality.”

 

Exposing & Opposing Social Justice Theology

 

 

 

For nearly two decades, Dr. Voddie Baucham has studied and warned the church about Marxism, liberalism, and postmodernism. He is an expert in expressing why these worldviews are so imminently dangerous, and how we are seeing the results of these thoughts in our current culture.

Also see other sermons/lectures by Dr. Baucham on this subject:

Defining Social Justice & Cultural Marxism; Dr. Voddie Baucham

 

Is Critical Theory Compatible with Christianity?

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Is Critical Theory Compatible with Christianity?

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If you haven’t heard the terms “intersectionality” and “critical theory,” your children likely have, at least if they are in college or even high school. What began as an academic theory decades ago is now a dominant way of seeing human relationships, at least for many: There are the oppressed, and there are the oppressors.

JOHN STONESTREET

If you haven’t heard the terms “intersectionality” and “critical theory,” your children likely have, at least if they are in college or even high school. What began as an academic theory decades ago is now a dominant way of seeing human relationships, at least for many: There are the oppressed, and there are the oppressors.

In our latest “What Would You Say?” video, Joseph Backholm describes how critical theory reduces human beings to categories according to race, gender, sexual preference and orientation, income, and on and on. Because some groups of people are more privileged than others, identifying one’s group ultimately determines one’s moral authority. Intersectionality, as Joseph explains, is an attempt to solve the problem of belonging to more than one group by measuring out the level of oppression a person experiences due to their various identities.

Ultimately, critical theory seeks to address these perceived privileges and imbalances of power and oppression, and it has become a dominant theory in higher education and in other arenas of culture.

So how should a Christian look at the critical theory and intersectionality? Are these concepts compatible with Christianity?

Here’s part of Joseph Backholm’s response from the latest “What Would You Say?” video:

Critical theory and intersectionality are not consistent with Christianity, and here are three reasons why.

First, critical theory offers a different view of humanity than Christianity.

Critical theory claims that our identity as human beings is rooted in things like race and gender, features that differ from person to person. But the Bible grounds our identity as human beings, and the value every human has, in the fact that we are created in God’s own image. This is something every human being shares.

While critical theory pits some groups of people against other groups based on their status as oppressors or oppressed, the Bible says we are all equal before God: created equal, equally valuable, equally guilty of sin, equally deserving of punishment, and equally able to find grace and mercy in Jesus.

Which leads to the second point.

Critical theory offers a different view of sin than Christianity

The Bible identifies sin as anything that violates God’s design for people, including unjust oppression of other people, but critical theory identifies sin only as oppression. As a result, advocates of critical theory would see biblical practices such as discipleship, correction, leadership, and reproof as sinful assertions of power, if the speaker is among the oppressors, and would excuse sins such as anger, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, or envy among the oppressed.

The Bible says that we are all guilty before God, regardless of social status, race, or economic situation. The Bible condemns oppression as one of but certainly not the only way in which humans rebel against God.

Because critical theory gets the problem wrong, it also gets the solution wrong, which leads to the third point.

Critical theory offers a different view of salvation than Christianity.

According to the Bible, because we are all equally guilty of sin, salvation can only be found in Jesus through repentance. Our hope is found in being forgiven of sin.

Because critical theory teaches that oppressors are guilty and the oppressed are not, salvation for the oppressed is found, not through repentance, but in social liberation here and now. Their hope is only though activism.

In other words, critical theory has a completely different understanding of who we are, what the problem is, and how to fix it, than Christianity.

Come to WhatWouldYouSay.org for the full video or subscribe to the What Would You Say? channel on YouTube

Resources:

The Non-Essential Church?

BreakPoint Daily

The Non-Essential Church?

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Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 5

JOHN STONESTREET

  • Note Bold and Italics emphasis through out is from me. 

Crises reveal much about us as individuals: our courage, our faith, our resiliency. They also reveal much about the health and strength of a community, a society, even a nation. Like that gold star or little yellow arrow on the map at the mall, certain moments in a crisis tell us, “You are here.”

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked during a press briefing why the coronavirus infection rate was slowing in his state. Governor Cuomo said: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that.” To be clear, he wasn’t asked about God or prayer, he just said it. This was a “you are here” moment for us.

After all, acknowledging God and providence has been a common theme throughout our nation’s history, whether through declaring solemn days of prayer and fasting in the midst of a crisis or a day of thanksgiving after. Today, it’s more common for officials to just ignore God and any role He might play in our world.

But there’s a world of difference between leaving God unmentioned and outright denying He deserves any credit at all for anything, from miraculous intervention to strengthening medical professionals to acknowledging He gave some the minds to develop therapies and technologies.

Even more telling, other than a few atheist “amens,” Governor Cuomo’s comments didn’t even make much of a stir. It’s almost as if his words were the culmination of the last few years, where the “don’t offer us prayers and thoughts, just do something” response to other tragedies moved from Twitter to media personalities to elected officials.

Cuomo’s comments, even more than any  we might see, reveal that a certain kind of secularism is now firmly embedded in our culture. To be clear, this isn’t the kind of secularism that takes Christianity and its claims about truth and morality head on, but the kind that dismisses and relegates them as personal, private commitments, irrelevant to public life and maybe even in the way. Despite being Catholic, the Governor seems to believe we live in a world where, at the end of the day, it’s our efforts, our knowledge, and our will that will see us through this and any future pandemics.

Though President Trump recently declared a “National Day of Prayer for All Americans Affected by the Coronavirus,” it’s clear that, as a people, we don’t take seriously God’s place in this world anymore, beyond being a source of personal encouragement and maybe inspiration. We are no longer the kind of people who really turn to God in times of trouble.

The growing conflict between churches and local governments only confirms this analysis. I’m thinking, for instance, of the people ticketed and fined for attending a drive-in church service, while fully complying with social distancing guidelines, listening to the sermon on radio in the church parking lot with windows rolled up. And this was in Mississippi.

Apparently, the mayor, like so many other officials we are hearing about, had signed an order deeming churches “non-essential.” Though he reversed course (thanks to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Justice Department, and public backlash), the larger point is that the church has long been relegated to the category of “non-essential” for so much of our lives as Americans, well before COVID-19. What else can explain the fact that in most states and according to many judges, abortion is an essential service, but worship is not?

Long gone are the “Little House on the Prairie” days, where churches were central to life in American communities, when school, community meetings, festivals, and local governments all happened at the church; where sermons were printed in newspapers and pastors were community leaders.

How churches became non-essential in our cultural imagination is quite a long story, but the primary fault is our own. If we think and talk of our faith as if its grounded in personal experience only instead of universal truths about the world, if Christianity is described within our own walls as an alternative self-help therapy, then we haven’t done such a great job catechizing our own people as to why Church is “essential.”

C.S. Lewis pointed out that people shouldn’t become Christians to be happy, since a good bottle of port can do that. In the same way, Christians shouldn’t go to church if there’s nothing there that they can’t get online, or in a fun reading club, or on a TED Talk, or at an AA meeting. In other words, if the Church is already non-essential to Christians, a pandemic is more than enough to make it official.


Resources:

We Can Only “Imagine” a Utopia: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 1

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | March 23, 2020

Deciding Who Gets Treated and Who Doesn’t: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 2

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | March 25, 2020

Gender Transition Surgeries in a Global Crisis: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 3

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | April 1. 2020

The Viral Pandemic of Distrust and Misinformation: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 4

John Stonestreet & Shane Morris | BreakPoint | April 17, 2020

‘Christian’ Atheists?’

The title would seem to be an oxymoron yet in reading the article I see it is these modern unbelievers calling themselves by such names. – Mike

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‘Christian’ Atheists?’

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A Faith Too Good to Be False

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

Last week, actor John Rhys-Davies, best known for playing the dwarf Gimli in “The Lord of the Rings” films, gave a strong defense for Christianity.

Speaking to the Christian Post from the red carpet at the Movieguide awards, Rhys-Davies said, “We seem to forget that Christian civilization has made the world a better place… We owe Christianity the greatest debt of thanks that a generation can ever have…” he went on, crediting it for the ideas of religious liberty, free speech, and individual rights.

Rhys-Davies, who recently starred in an animated adaptation of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and is the lead in an upcoming biopic of Saint Patrick, said he often finds himself sticking up for Jesus in his line of work.

The strange part of this story is that Rhys-Davies is a self-professed “rationalist and a skeptic,” not a Christian. Yet he is still able to see how the faith of Christ’s Church, as author Alvin J. Schmidt puts it, “changed the world” for the better.

Rhys-Davis is just one of many skeptics, atheists, and secularists of late who reject the rhetoric of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and recognize the immense good the Gospel has done for the world. Whereas the so-called New Atheists slandered Christianity as being backward and poisonous, a new crop of unbelievers see it as beneficial, beautiful, and maybe even in some limited sense, true.

Take Douglas Murray, British journalist, political commentator, and author of the new book, “The Madness of Crowds.” Though a self-professed non-believer and gay man, Murray admits to admiring Christianity and “the positive role it has played in building Western civilization.” He even labels himself, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a “Christian atheist.”

In a recent dialogue with Christian writer Esther O’Reilly on the “Unbelievable” podcast, Murray praised Christianity’s “revolutionary moral insights” such as the command to “love and forgive your enemies.”

“The more atheists think on these things,” he confessed, “the more we may have to accept that…the sanctity of human life is a Judeo-Christian notion which might very easily not survive [the demise of] Judeo-Christian civilization.”

But even more than recognizing Christianity’s usefulness, Murray sees the faith as meaningful. Describing a trip he took last year to the Sea of Galilee, Murray admitted he couldn’t stop thinking that, as he put it, “something happened here.”

Murray was one of several “Christ-haunted unbelievers” discussed on a recent BreakPoint Podcast conversation between Shane Morris and Esther O’Reilly.

In addition to her recent interaction with Murray, O’Reilly also contributed to an upcoming book about clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, another who has articulated a strong respect for Christianity from the perspective on non-belief.

According to O’Reilly, skeptics admitting to the Christian faith’s positive influence on history is only the headline of this story (although we’d be remiss to not include the recent book “Dominion” by Tom Holland as yet another example). O’Reilly thinks that under the surface, spiritual truth is being found too, much like the skeptics C. S. Lewis describes in the essay entitled “Myth Became Fact.”

Lewis, himself a convert from atheism, wrote, “A man who disbelieved the Christian story as fact but continually fed on it as myth would, perhaps, be more spiritually alive than the one who assented [to it as fact] and did not think much about it.”

With O’Reilly, we hope the flame of myth and meaning fans into full-blown belief, that they will come to see Christianity as “the place where the heart’s deepest longings and deepest intuitions about what is good…connect(s) with the mind’s deepest understanding [of what is true.]”

After all, no unbelief can survive that moment. Just ask C.S. Lewis.

Catch Shane Morris’ conversation with Esther O’Reilly on the BreakPoint Podcast.


Resources:

What’s with “Christian Atheists”? An Interview with Esther O’Reilly Shane Morris | BreakPoint Podcast | February 17, 2020

Douglas Murray cherishes Christianity. What would it take for him to believe? George Brahm | Premier Christianity | January 14, 2020

The Philosophy Fad

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The Philosophy Fad

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Quoting Marcus Aurelius Doesn’t Make You a Stoic

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

According to Wikipedia, “cultural appropriation” is “the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture.” While accusations of cultural appropriation fly around a bit out-of-control these days, the most contentious example is the taking of cultural artifacts of indigenous peoples, such as Native Americans or Australian Aboriginals, by wealthy Westerners, who then use the artifacts as hip decorations.

This kind of cultural appropriation divorces artifacts from their original context and strips them of their intended meaning. In other words, it ignores the worldviews that produced the artifacts in the first place.

Speaking of ignoring worldviews that produced the artifacts, a recent BBC article announced, “Why philosophers could be the ones to transform [our year] 2020.” Apparently, “long dead thinkers from Socrates to Nietzsche are the latest hot property in self-help books.”

For example, there’s the popular book, Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life. Or, for those who like their wisdom applied with a hammer, there are books offering a sort of popular twist on the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, with titles like What Would Nietzsche Do? and Get Over Yourself: Nietzsche for Our Times.

Existentialist philosophers like Camus and Sartre are also getting new life as popular thinkers repurposed for our times.

Believe it or not, the hottest philosophers in this new publishing trend are the Stoics; for example, the book, How to think like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.

There’s a strange irony that these ancient philosophers are hitting it big in affluent places like Silicon Valley. As the BBC article notes, “the Stoics generally took a dim view of huge wealth.”

My intention here is not to criticize anyone trying to take to heart Socrates’s wise maxim that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” but I can’t help but think this self-help fad is a first cousin to the “mindfulness” craze that swept Silicon Valley in the early 2010s. Back in 2013, Wired ran an article proclaiming that meditation could “make your career” in the tech capital.

But, to paraphrase the car commercial, this wasn’t your grandfather’s Buddhism, unless your grandfather was a 60s San Francisco hippie. At least, it’s not the Buddhism of your grandfather if he was Vietnamese or Tibetan. What was then dubbed as “Wisdom 2.0” – yes, that’s what it was called – was really a Buddhism stripped of any of “the dogma and religious trappings.”

Instead of mimicking the prince who renounced his throne and sat under the Bodhi tree seeking enlightenment and preaching about renouncing ego, Wisdom 2.0 was a utilitarian attempt to use the parts of the religion that could increase productivity and offer an edge on their competitors.

It’s hard to think that in “Philosophy 2.0,” Aristotle, Socrates, or Marcus Aurelius will fare much better. How can the ethos of Silicon Valley, with all its talk about constant reinvention and utopian technologies be reconciled with the Stoic emphasis on “differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t”?

It cannot. The only option is to appropriate certain artifacts of Stoicism, such as the language and certain ideas, and use them to decorate your life, just as we might decorate our walls with Navajo rugs. Of course, the rugs don’t make you a Navajo, and quoting Marcus Aurelius in memos won’t make you a Stoic either.

Chuck Colson used to say that people who identify themselves as “spiritual” while rejecting any ultimate authority essentially build “god kits” for themselves, borrowing bits and pieces from various religions. I call it the “buffet approach to worldview”: a little of this and a little of that.

This utilitarian approach not only ignores essential ideas and concepts and fails to understand them in their original contexts, it fails to wrestle the final and ultimate question of whether or not the philosophy is true. We might mention that an awful lot of Sunday morning sermons do the same kind of thing with Jesus’ teaching, but that would take another commentary.

Either way, in this new trend of philosophical appropriation, the master is the same master of the old trend: Me. Stoic philosophy just sounds better than “self-help.”


Resources:

In Silicon Valley, Meditation Is No Fad. It Could Make Your Career Noah Shachtman | Wired | June 18, 2013

Why philosophers could be the ones to transform your 2020 Neil Armstrong | BBC| January 15, 2020

LGBT Character Quotas

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LGBT Character Quotas

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

Just about every major movie release these days is scrutinized about whether or not it will feature an obvious LGBT character. Ever since the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” and a bit before, Disney has been sprinkling LGBT characters generously across its film properties.

Even the most recent installment of “Star Wars,” (now owned by Disney) features the franchise’s first, albeit strangely placed and obviously forced, same-sex kiss. And, Marvel Studios (also owned by, you guessed it, Disney) has joined the cause, including a gay character in its upcoming movie, “The Eternals.” The studio also recently announced a new film currently in production that will feature its “first ever transgender superhero,” marking what will likely become an endless parade of token “Ts” following in the wake of the “Ls” and “Gs.”

“Token” is the right word for what we are seeing. What most stands out about all these characters is just how tacked-on they feel. Few are essential to the stories being told. In some cases, they even detract or, at least, distract from them. Disney and other studios aren’t making movies about LGBT identity or lifestyle, they’re capitulating to character quotas—virtue signaling to the loud and influential LGBT lobby in order to keep protests down and ticket sales up.

The whole thing is reminiscent of Dave Barry’s satirical history of the U.S., “Dave Barry Slept Here,” in which he ends several chapters with the obligatory closer that “around this time women and minority groups were accomplishing a great many achievements, too.”

In no way am I suggesting that we shouldn’t expect more overt LGBT stories in the future. We certainly can. But in the meantime, the reality is that even a “woke” entertainment titan like Disney is not so much pushing a cultural agenda as they are bowing to it. Nor am I suggesting that their obvious capitulation to these imposed character quotas is ineffective sexual propaganda. As Brett Kunkle and I said in our book A Practical Guide to Culture, ideas are often most powerful not where they are the loudest, but where they are made to just appear normal.

Since the TV show “Will and Grace,” the most commonly advanced message has been that gay people are just like everyone else and just want to live and love in peace. Cultural acceptance of same-sex relationships grew steadily until Obergefell was enshrined into law. From there the demands only grew, from cultural power to legal power. Though many in the “G” and “L” camp were satisfied with “living and loving in peace,” the movement itself was far more ambitious, first demanding affirmation, then conformity and even participation from charities, public employees, bakers, florists, schools, and t-shirt makers.

Now, transgender characters are being introduced into big-budget films as characters who just want to live in peace. If this sounds familiar, it should. The “T,” which has almost nothing in common with the larger acronym and even contradicts the other letters in several places, has assumed enough soft cultural power to demand representation nearly everywhere. The question is: Will it also make the transition to legal power?

The strange tale of J. K. Rowling leaves some doubts. In early December, the multi-billionaire author of “Harry Potter” tweeted her support for a researcher in the U.K. who was fired from her job for saying that male and female are biological realities.

When a judge at an employment tribunal upheld the firing, calling the researcher’s views “transphobic,” and “unworthy of a democratic society,” Rowling tweeted that while she supports loving whichever consenting adult you choose, firing Maya Forstater for insisting that women are real was a bridge too far for her. Despite the intense backlash and calls for boycotts, Rowling still hasn’t retracted the tweet.

As Rod Dreher points out, this raises an interesting question: If all the soft power in that movement can’t move Rowling, can’t other entertainers say “no,” too? Maybe the claims of the transgender movement are just too radical. Maybe the “T” fails culturally where the “L” and the “G” largely succeeded?

We’ll find out soon enough. Until then, token transgender characters at the movies are an ironic reminder that this is a movement still trying to gain acceptance. Which means there’s still time for dissenting voices—even very influential ones—to say “no.”

Resources:

Why is JK Rowling being denounced? Because she said No to a lie C C Pecknold | Catholic Herald | December 20, 2019

A Practical Guide to Culture John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle | David C. Cook | 2017

Women at Work

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Women at Work

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…in the Home or in the Marketplace

01/22/20 

Many modern feminists insist that if women were given the same education and opportunities as men, they would almost certainly choose careers over family. It’s an attitude reflected in the comments by French President Macron a couple of years ago that educated women don’t have large families. In addition to the good bit of Twitter backlash Macron received then, studies continue to debunk the idea now.

Seventeen years ago, reporter Lisa Belkin wrote an article titled “The Opt-Out Revolution” based on a study that indicated how vast numbers of educated and highly successful women were giving up their careers to be stay-at-home moms. Last month, a follow-up study showed that, in large part, these same women who took a break from work to focus on momhood ended up wanting to stay home a lot longer than they originally expected—often until their kids graduated high school. Even after their kids graduated, these moms were less likely to return to their old careers as they were to find work at schools, nonprofits, philanthropies, or as consultants in their previous fields.

According to the study’s authors, these women were “seduced by the patriarchal bargain of privileged domesticity.”  Apparently, these women who were in a strong position to further the feminist cause were expected to do their part in promoting the narrative of the “freed” woman embodying equality by succeeding in realms previously dominated by men. Despite the rhetoric of the movement, whether or not they achieved individual fulfillment was irrelevant. No, these women were expected to advance the feminist agenda.

This agenda was on display at last weekend’s Women’s March. My colleague Joseph Backholm attended the march and interviewed a cross section of those women championing its modern feminist values. I’ll let the video, which you can see here at BreakPoint, speak for itself, but I will just say that as the dad of daughters, I was deeply saddened to hear women justify their existence only in their opposition to men. Even worse, having bought the new sexual orthodoxies of our day, they went on to say that the only thing that makes a woman a woman is self-identification. The confusion is palpable.

Early feminism was about correcting social injustices in pursuit of equal rights for women. Modern feminism went wrong by adopting the very framework that devalued women in the first place. In seeking to liberate women from sexism, modern feminism too often presumes that a woman’s value is in how she compares to and competes with men. According to my colleague Brooke Boriack, this means that modern feminism only devolves into another form of sexist tyranny. By elevating a male-dominated value system, women are forced to operate within a framework that devalues skills they alone can contribute to the world.

Or as Eric Metaxas wrote in the introduction of his terrific book “Seven Women,” “The lesson in all this is that to pit women against men is a form of denigration of women, as though their measure must be determined by masculine standards (strength, power, i.e. the woman who was annoyed by men lifting things for her)… How ironic that modern culture, by so often intimating power as the highest good, should force women to accept what amounts to nothing less than patriarchal thinking, in the most pejorative sense of that adjective.”

Thankfully, there are many women willing to resist the message that says they must act like men to make a difference. I highlighted eight of them in a Breakpoint commentary a few weeks ago, women who are changing the world in ways men cannot. Their experiences, talents, positions, and voices as women set their work apart.

The highly educated women in that recent study did not choose to exercise their power by doing something as well as men—they’re doing something men can’t do at all. A father’s contribution to the home is vital, but a devoted mom is a force of nature like no other.

After all, a pivotal point in all of human history was when a young woman said “Yes” to God, agreeing to do something that no man could have done. She became the mother of our Lord.

Healthy cultures support women as women, allowing them to thrive according to their unique gifts and talents—in business, in government, in the home, or in any realm—without fear of belittlement, and without pressure to support political agendas that inadvertently devalue them.

Resources:

They Don’t Wanna Work Naomi Schaefer Riley | Commentary | December 19, 2019

Eight Women You Should Know John Stonestreet & Shane Morris | BreakPoint | December 4, 2019

7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness Eric Metaxas | Thomas Nelson | 2015