Saturday, 28 June 2014

Is the "Christian Right" finally subsiding?

“Nobody is capable of of free speech unless he knows how to use language, and such knowledge is not a gift: it has to learned and worked at.”
-Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination, p. 93

When I was working as a policy analyst for a Regional Inuit Association I was invited to take part in a series of workshops organized and held by the Curriculum Development Office in Arviat, Nunavut. In one of them I made mention of the need to incorporate the experiences of the students—I think it was after having read Northrop Frye—by way of their favourite music, artists and movies, and was given a book called, Popular Culture: schooling and everyday life (OISE Press, Critical Studies in Education Series, 1989)—an anthology of scholarly essays.

After perceiving a recent series of stunning push-backs against North American right-wing nuttery—in the US and Canada—I went back to the book in hopes of gaining a better understanding of this mass movement that seems to be losing steam rather quickly. A cybernetic interpretation says that it'll resist dying out completely and may mutate into either something resembling vicious Islamic fundamentalism or fracture into cult-like closed communities (a la David Koresh)—we are after all dealing with belief systems of people already prone to and/or inured into conspiracy theories blended with an imperative for ideological "purity".

There is an essay in the book called, Televangelism as Pedagogy and Cultural Politics, by Peter McLaren and Richard Smith (Ch. 8):

The resurgence of the Christian Right in America and Australia and the emergence of of fundamentalist-evangelical television ministers can be seen as a sociohistorical changes in the post-1960s era. Alberoni (1984: 41), in his discussion of social movements, describes the experience which enables people to recognize themselves as having consciousness of kind, and "alternative interpretation of reality" or the "nascent state":

The nascent state is an exploration of the limits of the possible within a given type of social system, in order to maximize the portion of experiences and solidarity which is realizable for oneself and for others at a specific historical moment...[here the authors are quoting Alberoni]

Alberoni argues that the nascent state emerges because of the coincidence of certain structural preconditions and the deliberate intervention of "missionaries, agents, or agitators." The former are those circumstances where single persons and collectivities experience sui generis authentic contradictions between what they desire in everyday and institutional life and what is, so the latter becomes intolerable. (pp. 149-150)

The authors of the essay continue citing Alberoni's contention that the "traditional" middle class ("whose social location lies between the privileged and the exploited") with already "religious" proclivities and disillusioned by the "loss of (positive) traditions"—attributing that "loss" to permissive left-wing progressives—manifests as a(n exclusive) mass social movement. I say it evidences itself as "prosperity" Christianity with branches (within a larger, single "ministry") that cater to different hues of skin colour less denominational affinities. One can see the same stage and back drop behind black-American preachers with black audiences, white-American preachers with white audiences, but under the same corporate logo and uniformity.

Like much of the easy-going, low-key tradition of Canada—fortunately far from centers of change and flash-points that spawn these vicious and destructive feedback loops—the Christian Right here is decidedly ersatz. This is a good thing; the institutions and the larger society in which these are embedded has been graciously afforded the time to reflect upon and learn from the inevitable fallout. Not that Harper and the reformists haven't given the old college try.

Pathetic, really.

The theatrics Harper and his minions pathetically try and employ here are comical at best for the simple fact that they're already obvious and obsolete by the time they hit our shores. Canada is unintentionally cool that way.

At the time of this writing the Mississippi electorate has chosen sanity over militancy and the inappropriately shrill outrages of Harper in his attempts at attacking the long-standing institutions like the Supreme Court of Canada have only resulted in him being put in his place time and again. Canadians are apparently just plain getting tired of and angry with Harper embarrassing himself in every front he's tried to open his ignorant mouth in. The "Christian Right" has lost its initiative.

Jay

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