Cancel culture is making many Christian readers and creators feel unwelcome in “mainstream” culture. Christians may need to retreat and create separate, digital spheres. But what does that look like, and will it work?
Characteristics of cancel culture
- Driven by safetyism and paternalism.
- Powered by authoritarianism.
- Enabled by militant secularism.
- No presumption of innocence, due process, or transformation.
- Results in purity tests and purges.
- We have to look in more distant history for comparable movements.
Sun Tzu famously said that knowledge of the enemy is the most powerful asset in warfare:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
We are in a war of cultures; not just a war within a culture, but a struggle for supremacy between competing worldviews. What this means for Christians is that it’s swiftly becoming socially and legally unacceptable to publicly acknowledge God’s authority to define human nature, human relationships, or any other aspect of reality.
From “We didn’t start this culture war,” an article on spiked:
The claim that critics of cancel culture are obsessing over random examples might hold some water if there weren’t so many examples. Since the Black Lives Matter protests exploded last year, the hitherto esoteric idea that all culture must be cleansed in order to bring about a just society has gone mainstream and led to countless ‘cancellations’. This has created a climate in which companies are either folding instantly to absurd demands or scrubbing their own output without anyone really having to ask. Which is handy for the cancel-culture deniers, who get to proclaim that ‘no one called for this to happen’ while also basically supporting it.
- Dr. Seuss Is Canceled
- Ebay Is Removing Listings for Discontinued Dr Seuss Books, Citing ‘Offensive Materials Policy’
- When Harry Became Sally: The Book Amazon Does Not Want You to Read
Like everyone else Dr. Seuss had his flaws.
He made some missteps, he got dirt on his paws.
But he owned his mistakes, made amends, and grew wise.
Illustrated his growth, as his heart grew in size.
Seuss was a model of how we should behave.
In confronting our flaws we should all be so brave.
And if we are able, put the lessons to rhyme,
For a rhyme drives a point with a rhythm through time.
Three approaches to cancel culture:
- Stay and fight
- Embrace alternative domains
- Create uniquely Christian networks
- We have a tendency to act as though “real freedom’s never been tried,” even though “cancel culture” was born out of just such a classically-liberal society.
- The reality is we are facing cultural conquerors, so we must actually fight for what we believe. How do we wage this battle as Christians?
- There are many other platforms that would love our business and offer more freedom and control. But are centralized networks still doomed to fail?
- We could be like the Amish, retreat to our own communities, and build our own advanced systems. What is the cost/benefit analysis of this?
Alternative networks mentioned and discussed:
- On Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the internet: “He Created the Web. Now He’s Out to Remake the Digital World.“
- Five Blockchain-Based Social Media Platforms To Watch In 2020
- The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien
- A Shattered World, by Lelia Rose Foreman. “This is the Puritan space colonization epic you never knew you needed.”
- The Mark (Left Behind #8), by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
- Amish Vampires in Space, by Kerry Nietz
- Svaha, by Charles de Lint
Meanwhile, let’s love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Love doesn’t mean accommodating or excusing sin, but speaking the truth. Love our own families and children. Connect with other Christians who have the same priorities. Wean ourselves off convenient services that have made us dependent on gatekeepers. Focus on depth and multiplication, the same way that the church has done evangelism, discipleship, and missions.
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