She posted a meme, and got “cancelled.” His old tweets “resurfaced,” so he got cancelled too. Then, plot twist: some cancelled heroes come back from this cultural “death” and get right back to normal. But you can’t cheat this “death” by apologizing. Except when you can. It’s confusing. It’s even more confusing for Christian fans trying to enjoy fantastic stories and people who help make them. How can Christian fans react when fantasy creators get cancelled?
Sponsor: The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ
Stephen and Dr. Jared Moore are speaking this month at events with Realm Makers Bookstore:
- Teach Them Diligently, March 18–20, Nashville, Tennessee
- Great Homeschool Conventions, March 25–27, St. Louis, Missouri
- To speed the discussion, we must assume some views of “cancel culture.”
- We think it’s generally bad. Not because we’re against societal “rules.”
- Instead, these rules tend to be morally empty, and call neutrality/good “evil.”
Top three questions
- How we do discern necessary “cancelling” from legalistic “cancelling”?
- If the cancellation was immoral, how do we love cancelling-mob enemies?
- If cancellation was moral, how do we view the cancelled or their stories? (We’ll cover this in Part 2.)
1. How we do discern morally necessary cancelling from immoral, legalistic cancelling?
- Americans have a constitutional First Amendment that recognizes free speech.
- This also reflects in a “spirit” of the First Amendment in societal standards.
- We also believe in societal standards that aren’t law, but are expected.
- That means, in theory, if you’re behaving indecently, you may get fired.
- Example: in a better world, people who sexualize children must pay social prices.
- We don’t want them punished forever, but some social areas are just not for them.
- It’s a secular version of “church discipline.” That’s encouraged in the Bible.
- Also, we see some overlap between this “cancel culture” and religious “rules.”
Did the Church actually start “cancel culture”?
- However, some wrongly claim “the church started cancel culture.”
- This can be another “blame the Church Back Home first” complex.
- Usually (and to a fault), churches want “cancelled” people to repent.
- But you can apologize to secular mobs and they still cancel you. No grace.
- Church discipline, or parting ways with someone, must be done in grace.
- In immoral cancelling, the cancellers have no moral standing for their actions.
Two examples of moral cancelling: James Gunn and Joss Whedon.
- Gunn was seemingly genuinely repentant for words, and supported by friends.
- Whedon has been silent about (reputed) actions, and not supported by colleagues.
- This may illustrate better “cancellation” at work, with better social standards in place.
- So it’s not the idea of cancelling, but bad/empty cancelling, that makes it evil.
One example of immoral cancelling: Gina Carano from The Mandalorian
- I view this as an immoral cancellation, yes. See her interview with Ben Shapiro.
- Her haters seem transparently anti-woman. They mock her like “mean girls.”
- This is what makes it very hard for Christians not to respond in kind.
2. If cancellation was bad, how do we react well to cancelling-mob enemies?
- Seeing hypocrites and abusers get away with it is rightfully enraging.
- The Psalmists lament how the powerful do evil and keep getting away with it.
- C. S. Lewis described folks who act with a kind of moral tyranny:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
- This, however, does not describe many cancel mobs. They’re actually worse.
- However, the “omnipotent moral busybodies” enable/use the cancel mobs.
- This calls for discernment especially when we do need to call evil, evil.
- We have no desire to punish the wicked, but that they turn from their ways!
- So we have to expect repentance and offer forgiveness to any mob member.
Next on Fantastical Truth
What about when someone deserves to get cancelled? We’ll talk about that next time, on Part 2 of this series.
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