Ancient Wisdom Holds the Key to our Economic Woes

The moral axioms — the principles and standards of human conduct that govern, mediate, and set bounds and conditions to our relations with each other — have long been codified for Western civilization in the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, a benchmark and a standard of reference as to the manner in which we should treat each other as well as those things that become associated with us during our mortal sojourn, or, in other words, our property.

Both the Old and New Testaments assume the existence of property in very much the same sense we understand it today, as “private,” or, in other words, as that which, like the clothes or shoes one wears, or the food one buys and cooks, “belongs” to the one who earned the money through his own labor to purchase such property; it is “his” in the sense that labor, time, talent, and effort are combined to generate a moral boundary, or moral frontier across which one does not reach one’s hand without the permission or knowledge of the owner of that property.

Such commandments as the seventh and tenth, regarding the nature of property and its moral qualities within human relations are key to the viability of a free, lawful, and prosperous opportunity society that also cares for its poor in a meaningful way.

Were the vast majority of the population to take these two commandments seriously, the very concept of “class envy” would be severely curtailed and minimized, our safety net would exist, but be woven of a much finer and more effective fabric, and welfare would not be a “right” for the recipients protected by a morally priggish, ham-fisted welfare state, but a duty, as caring for the poor has always been in the Judeo-Christian tradition, for those who give.

The present battle for the crumbs of the masters table that has come to be understood as that between the “takers” and the “makers” represents a gross perversion of human relations as well as of the fundamental relation between a people and the state.  The economic illiteracy of the entire present model used by the ascendant Left and the political classes in economic matters is an important if limited subject of vigorous debate, but it is the moral basis of economic life, however, that has now come to the fore as a leading issue of our time — and barometer of our moral viability as a people.

From a newly militant and unreasoning unionism, especially in the public sector, to the blandishments of “community organizers,” to the entrenched poverty industry, to the class war demagoguery of Democratic party ideologues and academic poseurs, both ends of the candle burn.  As the economy continues to collapse and the crumbs on the table become ever more scarce, the philosophical moral relativism taught in the classroom and in the pop culture and the practical moral relativism encouraged and assumed by the entitlement mentality of the welfare state over the last forty years will converge like a great vice upon the remaining common elements holding our society together.

Those who see few moral boundaries between themselves and the property of others and see redistribution of the property of others to themselves as an “entitlement” and hence, are willing, in essence, to force others into servitude through the intermediary of the state for their own benefit, will vote for ever expanding government without rational limit (as human wants, especially when they can be satisfied for “free” tend to have no rational limit).

Then there are “the rich,” a class of people made up, not of individuals but of ideologically useful archetypes.  These people don’t pay their “fair share” and are actually the cause of the poverty of the poor.  Their money, which, left to them, will be stuffed in mattresses, sequestered in off-shore accounts, and wasted on things like investment in productive economic activities that create wealth, jobs, and opportunities for others, must not be left to its own devices.

Leaving all that money and property in the hands of individuals in the private sphere, who will only use it selfishly and narrow-mindedly to follow their own interests and pursue happiness, per the Declaration, grounded in their unalienable right to do so in their own way and according to their own talents and abilities, is inconsistent with the creation of a “better world,” which is, of course, how most of our wealth should be used (if we were as smart, morally developed, and enlightened as the ruling class).

Like the lifeguard at the local public pool who blows his whistle and shouts “Alright, everybody out of the pool!” when some rule is broken, the progressive ruling class, of whom the Democratic party is the institutional political representative, says to all those who balk and cry out as ever more of the fruits of their labor are summarily confiscated in ever increasing quantities, “You didn’t build that.”  Private wealth never belonged to those outside the (taxpayer supported) government sector in the first place.  How can this be?  How can that which is utterly parasitic and dependent turn upon those to whom it owes the totality of its existence and say “No, you are the parasite; we are the foundation and source of all you are and all you have.”?  How can the lamprey say to the shark, “You are living off me.”?

The answer is that, to the Left, all wealth and all property belong, by definition and by moral prerogative, to the state.  The fundamental idea behind this is that all property, money, and wealth belong, not to those who earn it through productive economic activity, but to the collective — to all who share citizenship within the same body politic.  We live in a commons within which there are no clear moral demarcation lines between the property of one citizen and that of another. “Ownership” is not a relevant concept within the commons, only “distribution” of existing wealth, none of which is “owned” by those who created it because none of that wealth ever really left the “public” sphere in the first place.  Do you have a dollar?  Then there is a government agency, a government program, a government road, a government bridge, a government employee filling a pothole, or a public school teacher somewhere who shares equally and substantively in ownership of that dollar.

My argument here is simply that too many of us have abandoned the core moral principles that are at the foundation of both a prosperous overall society and a viable, sustainable social order, and that these principles must be reclaimed and reestablished as the fundamental basis of both prosperity and welfare, as well as of a free society.

The seventh commandment says, “Thou shalt not steal,” and the tenth tells each individual, rich or poor, that “Thou shalt not covet…anything that is thy neighbor’s.”  This means, among other things, that prosperity, upon which welfare itself is based, cannot exist in a world in which there is more theft than savings, investment, and productive work.  The modern welfare state long ago began generating the attitude and assumption among a critical mass of the American electorate that the fundamental purpose of government is, as Frederic Bastiat said, to enable everyone “to live at the expense of everyone else.”  To provide welfare in the tragic way it has been done, however, as a matter of fundamental preemptive claim of some upon the fruits of the labor of others, means that the moral boundaries between individual and individual have to become ever more indistinct, if not indefinable over time, to justify these kinds of economic relations.

To Barack Obama and most within his party, the private sector and everything that is created and generated within it is nothing more than an epiphenomena of the state.  The entire private sphere of human activity is wholly dependent upon government for its very existence and nothing it actually creates can therefore be understood as outside the realm of state power to regulate and control.  Government is creator, and hence, it is lord and possessor as well.

The present struggle between what has come to be called the “takers” (the very taking notice of which has brought wails of moral anguish from the Left) and the more productive (and job creating) elements of society, has become one of the core struggles of our generation.  The so-called “takers,” of course, are not a lumpen mass but a variety of Americans who are similar in that they receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes to support those benefits, whatever form those taxes may take.  The result is obvious: virtually half of all Americans have little incentive to vote for limited government that is much less involved in the lives of its citizens and every incentive to vote perennially for a doting caregiver state that is ever increasing and expanding in size, scope, and in its ability to dispense ever more generous “benefits.”

The classical liberal and Judeo-Christian influenced ideal of strictly limited government, the rule of law, and private property rights is the antibiotic for the bacterium of collectivism in which there are no moral boundaries between human beings relative to that which is produced by personal human effort.  Moral boundaries, demarcation lines, and perimeters circumscribing and defining what is mine and what is not mine help create prosperity by creating moral and economic spaces where wealth can be created and saved free from continual, arbitrary confiscation.  Such controls effectively disappear in a socialist world and hence ownership itself becomes “greed” and any personal wealth becomes something taken off of “someone else’s back.”  The morality of property relations as found in the two great Mosaic commandments relating to property are effectively reversed. 

The crux of all this is as clear as it is fearful: If nothing you create through your own labor really belongs to you, but to the state, then you belong to the state.  If government really owns all you have, then government also owns all you are — your time, talents, skills, abilities, and labor.

Some truths are hard for some, yet liberating for others.  What must be reestablished and defended vigorously is that the key to human economic welfare is wealth creation, not wealth transference; the key to economic independence is work, thrift, industriousness, savings, and investment, not laying claim to the wealth of others, and that the destruction of moral boundaries means the end of the “civil” in civilization.

Advertisements

The Culture Wars: No Substutute for Victory

The Culture Wars: No Substitute for Victory

Long ago, General Douglas MacArthur said that “there is no substitute for victory” in military matters.  When the nation goes to war, if and when it goes to war, there are to be no half measures, no timid, unsure, inconsistent tactics, and no sending of mixed signals to the enemy that would create the impression that one’s own nation was uncommitted to or bereft of the will and dedication to see the conflict through to its end.

Also long ago, the Left learned and mastered the art of political war and came to understand something that conservatives, collectively speaking, have yet to learn and the Republican party and establishment, institutionally speaking, appear incapable of grasping: that politics is, indeed, war by other means.  The “culture wars” along its various fronts, are a direct manifestation of their mastery of the tactics, strategies, and weapons of political warfare and the will to use it in pursuit of MacArthur’s ideal state, the state of victory.

The “long march” through the institutions, originally the brainchild of Italian socialist intellectual Antonio Gramsci and made a real and effective strategy for the attainment of cultural and political hegemony (or, more to the point, a counter-hegemony) by the cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School and their progeny, has been essentially over for several decades.  Somehow, in some manner, while “America slept,” the major institutions of society that generate, interpret, and disseminate ideas were colonized and assimilated by the Left.

K-12 education and the teachers colleges; the humanities and social science professorate within academe; the major print and electronic news media; Hollywood and the arts, the Foundations etc. came to be thoroughly dominated by the Left and came to reflect its beliefs, values, and vision.

The present conflict at Rutgers University over a syllabus for a undergraduate political science coarse which, like many such syllabi within modern academia, prescribes not what students will learn but what and how they will think and the core values they will or will not hold, is a direct manifestation of the degree to which the Left has actually come to dominate such institutions and what, given that domination, they believe they can get away with even in this modern “information” age.

The syllabus, for Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, stipulates that students are “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.”  As has always been the case, the focus of culture war is, and remains, control of language and the forging of language into a weapon of political struggle.

“Language that is truly inclusive affirms sexuality, racial and ethnic backgrounds, stages of maturity, and degrees of limiting conditions” states the syllabus, and at the center of the professor’s concerns is, of course, “a fundamental issue of social justice.”  The concept of “social justice” is, of course, unintelligible in a free society whose core ideas of legitimate government and a viable social order are grounded in the rule of law, equality under the law, and unalienable individual rights.  “Social” Justice and the rule of law, as the late Balint Vazsonyi once said, “are mutually exclusive. One cannot have it both ways.”

The war for the control of language has raged across the cultural landscape for thirty to forty years now, and the epicenter of those particular battles have been in K-12 and higher ed, those institutions where minds are molded, the boundaries of discourse established, and stubbornly resistant attitudes instilled.  The humanities and social science classroom long ago became a kind of shorthand for ideological indoctrination, reeducation (sans  “education”) the fundamental goal of which is the utter destruction of classical liberalism.

The fundamental problem of “political correctness,” and the problem conservatives face in the arena of ideas in which we find ourselves, is that what we think about ourselves, our relations with others, and about the great and greatest questions of life, including the central questions of ethics (what is the good, the true, the beautiful, and the just?) and politics, depends to a great extent upon the way we use language.  As our language is altered and corrupted to reflect what Thomas Sowell has called “the vision of the anointed” (which is, in a nutshell, the totality of the worldview and psychology of the Left across a number of schools of thought, movements, and causes), we begin, year by year, decade by decade, mind by mind, and from one generation to the next, to confront the Left more upon its own terms than upon those of the conservative/classical liberal/Judeo-Christian terms which are the key to its ultimate containment and defeat.

It’s a cardinal rule of military strategy that it’s far better to engage an enemy upon one’s own terms, and force that enemy to fight under the conditions you choose, than to allow him to engage you on his terms.  Imagine, if you will, that over the last thirty to forty years the West and American in particular has found itself in a battle, the stakes of which are the very legitimacy of its own core civilizational assumptions and values.  Now imagine that, battle by battle, the war progressed either to one’s own benefit, or to the benefit of one’s adversary.  There are skirmishes, ambushes, harassment and intimidation, and sometimes, pitched battles.  The primary weapons in this war are the signs and symbols through which we understand, describe, and negotiate our experience.  The major weapon here is language, and the battle is for the hearts and minds of a people and, most especially, its children and rising generations.  In some cases, the weapons are also imagery, but in every case, even the images must be justified or defended with words.

Now imagine that one’s adversary, in a very subtle manner and over long periods of time (generations, ideally), can create a situation in which, even when one engages the adversary or his supporters in a vigorous defense of truth, core principles, and the weight of evidence, one finds oneself using the very same terms, and unwittingly making some of the very same assumptions as one’s adversary.  One finds oneself, even if quite unconscious of it, fighting against the enemy even while allowing him to control the terms of the debate and limit the degree to which one’s own defense can deviate from boundaries he has set.

Imagine that he can, through carefully inserting the terms he wishes you to use (carrying as they do, implications beyond their normative usage) into a society’s common lexicon through endless repetition in the popular news and entertainment media, books, novels, magazine articles, song lyrics, product advertisements, and public education textbooks, get you to use their terms to describe your positions.  Your parents may have gotten wise to it as it developed, but the next generation knows only the altered meaning of terms, and tends to assume that those terms describe real things, when in fact they may not be descriptive at all, but prescriptive.  The new terms may carry unspoken but assumed ideological or philosophical assumptions that place us in covert agreement with the adversary culture even when we know we are not in agreement at all.  Welcome to reality.

The saturation and pervasive feel of the normal to all of this is fascinating, as well as alarming.  Even distinguished and popular conservative pundits and social critics, from Mark Steyn to Rush Limbaugh (just as two well known examples) frequently, as a matter of course, use terms such as “gay” (instead of homosexual) and “African American” instead of “black” to describe certain classes of people.  I have rarely met first generation immigrants from Africa in my 54 years (although I have known and worked with a number of black people from the Caribbean).  Most of those I have known, had friendships with, worked with, and practiced martial arts with, have family lines in America going back centuries.  And yet, I am to call these indigenous Americans African Americans, as if they were displaced foreign nationals sojourning in a foreign land.

If one understands the concepts promulgated by critical theory (the academic umbrella under which various Frankfurt School doctrines are situated on the modern campus and the theoretical basis upon which most of the “studies” disciplines in contemporary academe are founded) and understands the role “political correctness” (the tactical weapon of linguistic and conceptual warfare most favored by the Left) plays in the ongoing struggle to marginalize and delegitimize ideas that are subversive of leftist ideology, then one understands why I should call an indigenous American with black skin an “African” American, a male homosexual “gay” (not a descriptive term but a psychological reference), a classical liberal a “conservative,” a critic of socialism/communism a “fascist,” and a leftist a “progressive.”

One then understands how one can use the term “social” and “justice” in the same sentence and understand themselves to have made a conceptually coherent statement and not an ideological claim.  As this is being written, the terms “Husband” and “wife” are in process of being stuffed down the progressive memory hole by the Anointed and being replaced with “partner,” and this inconspicuous but key alternation in the language used to describe the central organizing institution of civilization — the family — has now moved from its past haunts of network television sitcoms and pop entertainment magazines into the real world of political power and its very real effects.

The last election was not just what appears to be a mandate by a clear majority of the American people to live at the expense of everybody else (in Frédéric Bastiat’s classic formulation), but the careless opening of a social, cultural, and economic Pandora’s Box marked “the fundamental transformation of America.”

“The Intellectuals” Among the Saints

Among the most interesting dynamics one observes as one studies the patterns and general tendencies of apostasy from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and, with especial relevance to this blog, when one’s transition out of the Church is a not a transition into evangelical Protestantism, which was for sometime the seeming traditional destination of many leaving the Church in the decades prior to the nineties when the evangelical Christian “counter-cult” movement was of primary concern to many LDS intellectuals and “apologists” (a term I’ve never been able to warm up to but will use here as a matter of longstanding convention), but into the “great and spacious building” mentioned in the First Book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, (which I will here, as I have long done elsewhere, associate with the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil as also mentioned throughout the Book of Mormon, and with what I have come to call Korihorism, or the philosophy of an ancient American anti-Christ, one of several mentioned, all of whom followed a similar philosophical, psychological, valuational, and spiritual pattern in their manner of life and the belief systems they created, taught, and defended in the justification of that manner of life), is the degree to which, as the gospel and its teachings are abandoned, the mind becomes occluded, congested, and fragmented with respect to gospel principles, and how “from him shall be taken even the light which he has received.”

New ideas, perceptions, orienting concepts, and worldviews take the place of a knowledge of the plan of salvation.  The new intellectual and psychological orientation has many facets but always a particularistic focus; race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual proclivity, age, peace, social justice, economic justice, “liberation,” “rights” (relative to solidarity within a specified identity group), saving the planet, reparations for some ancient grievance, the “reimagining,” or “transformation” of core aspects of society and human relations, hope and change.  As the gospel of Jesus Christ fades from consciousness, new forms of worship and messianic expectation arise, each with their own fallen world, their own redemptive sacrifices, and some with their own Edenic beginnings.

Joanna Brooks’ essay at Religion Dispatches entitled “Is Criticizing Mitt Romney an Excommunicable Offense? No” is a case in point.  Beginning as little more than a report about claims in another publication claim one David Tweed, an apostate critic of the Church who published details of sacred temple ceremonies, conduct considered to be both the prostitution of the sacred and indicative of deep dis-integrity regarding one’s sacred covenants with the Lord, according to the laws and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the essay then turns to Brooks’ and other LDS leftist’s traditional preoccupations: the alleged “controversial elements” faced by the Church (and she here mentions the traditional ace in the hole always played by critics of the Church, plural marriage, which is certainly controversial, but no more so than sexual abstinence before marriage, complete sexual fidelity during marriage, or that homosexuality is a serious violation of the Lord’s standards of sexual relations), “questions of the origins of the Book of Mormon,” a preoccupation of both the traditional evangelical Christian counter-cult as well as of the secularist LDS intellectual Left (but not a question at all for those who have received a personal, individual witness within themselves, through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the principle of direct, personal revelation from God (which testimony or witness is described as the “spirit of prophecy” in Revelation 19:10), regarding the origins of that Book), and another favorite of our contemporary Korihorists, the claimed attempts of the Church to hide or render invisible unpalatable aspects of Church history.

As anyone who has been in the Church for any length of time well knows, any number of the “Boo!” claims made by people such as Brooks regarding problems and quandaries of Church history or the behavior of certain key figures in it have long been available to Latter-day-Saints in their own literature, both scholarly and of general interest.  Anyone willing to read, study, and search (as I have always been wont to do) and who wasn’t living among the remoter peaks of the Himalayas has long known of, and seen or constructed on their own, reasoned arguments regarding, most of the traditional problems and back alleys of Church history.

When Brooks asserts that “question of openness—the matter and manner in which the LDS community sorts through its own history and practices—is a source of tension among Mormons today,” she is not asserting something general amongst the majority of faithful, committed, active, and what in LDS parlance be understood as “valiant” Latter-day Saints who are struggling and striving to perfect and purify themselves from their individual sins, weaknesses, and biases toward both the trivial and the evil and who are striving to be cleansed and purged of their baser, carnal, “natural” inclinations, tendencies, and predispositions and “endure to the end” against overwhelming sociocultural odds (amplified and water duly carried by people such as Joanna Brooks), but a tiny, alienated (and when we are speaking of the Left, we are speaking of alienation, not only from the gospel of Christ, but from the principles of the American founding and the classical liberal philosophy and general worldview at its base), decadent intellectual elite whom Dr. Thomas Sowell has termed, the Anointed, and Kenneth Minogue has called The Olympians.  The LDS Anointed, like the secular Anointed around them, hold very similar perspectives, assumptions, and ideological visions of the world, but in our case, with an LDS gloss.  I use the term “intellectuals” as scholars and thinkers such as Sowell, Minogue, Bork, and the distinguished historian Paul Johnson has used the term, and not as an attack on intellectuality or advanced education per se, as it is nothing of the kind.

The broad way beckons and the foolish virgins move through the mist of darkness with lamps only dimly lit, while hands that should be grasping the iron rod reach for and close upon other things.  Leaving the Church is a matter of agency, but the Church, and the gospel of which it is the divinely authorized representative, institution, society, and community, cannot absorb so much as a particle of “the world” without sending out antibodies to repel the infection.  The last time that happened, the result was what we in the Church know as “the great apostasy,” and modern revelation makes clear that this is not, will not, occur again.  This is, in Latter-day Saint teaching, the dispensation of the fullness of times, the dispensation that will see the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, to rule and govern here personally, and the Church of Jesus Christ, in its purity and authority, will not be taken fully from the earth again before that time arrives.

The world – spiritual Babylon – cannot be domesticated and brought into the Church in some kind of ecumenical convergence of understanding and accommodation with the Church.  To do so would inevitably destroy only one side of that sociocultural integration, and those aspects destroyed would be the spiritual, ministerial, moral, and intellectual integrity of the Church, while Babylon would absorb the least unpalatable, broad and generalized ethical platitudes and politically neutered pieties left over from such a conflation, or at least make a show of so doing, while utterly deracinating the Church of its most “plain and precious” truths.

The authority of the priesthood would be extinguished, the knowledge of the plan of salvation and the intimate relationship of human beings to God would be lost, and the ordinances of the gospel impugned, cast among the swine, and forgotten.  Then, “without God in the world,” basking in our own enlightenment and led by the modern and postmodern intellectuals, we can set about seeing that the earth’s climate stays just where we desire it to be, that everyone, everywhere, has about the same things, in the same quantity, and of the same quality; that marriage is a contract between anyone and for any reason including, perhaps, the bearing and rearing of children (if allowed by the state past a certain point); and that omnipresent, omniscient, and omniresponsible government is the bread and an incessant, relentless maelstrom of all-enveloping entertainment composed primarily of exotic, intense violence and sexual imagery and loud, monotonous, insipid, brute, attitudinal music that closes and smothers higher, more refined feelings and sensitivities and generates a drug-like mass psychology and diminishing of individual thought and reflection; an ever greater and more pervasive immersion in the visual and the sensate, and ever less pausing, as the spine tingles with the sense of the profound, the enigmatic, the beautiful – the true – over a word, phrase, idea or argument found as we wander, the world, its veil of tears lost to us, within the pages of a great book the circus, of the post-Christian, post-liberal, post-literate, post-reflective, post-capitalist, post-historical, post-modern, post-post world of the progressive world of post-everything that was wrong with the world before the Left discovered the secrets of human felicity.

As we are called and encouraged, within the Book of Mormon itself, to “liken” the scriptures “unto ourselves” (paraphrasing Nephi) in our own contemporary latter-day context, I have come to associate Korihorism and the great and spacious building, including its attitudes, psychological attributes, and cultural patterns, with what is broadly and universally understood to be “the Left.”

This crosses a number of dimensions, from social issues (probably the most stark and obvious of the conflict of values and principles between the two worlds; Zion and Babylon, in scriptural imagery) to broader but related political issues, economics, and our relations with other nations.

Cultural Mormonism and Mormonism Talis Qualis

The world of cultural Mormonism is an interesting place because the very idea of domesticating – of neutering – the restored gospel and the Church that is its institutional, social, and cultural manifestation such that contemporary intellectual, political, and social nostrums and fashions can be assimilated by that Church, making that Church, in essence, politically (socioculturally, ideologically, philosophically) correct (or politically cleansed of the things that make the people in the Great and Spacious Building point their fingers in smug mockery) is understood by faithful Latter-day Saints to be out of the question.

To do so could only have one consequence, and that would be the utter destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints as a divinely authorized instrument and institution who’s core purpose is the perfecting of the Saints, the preaching of the gospel, and the salvation of the dead (the “threefold mission” of the Church).  The Church exists to exalt families in the Celestial Kingdom, the highest degree or “heaven” in LDS doctrine, and the fundamental focus of everything that is taught in the Church, and of every program and policy.

The effects of such a convergence of the Church and “Babylon” (spiritual Babylon, spiritual Sodom, spiritual Rome etc., within gospel symbolic teaching,) could only end one way, and that would be the absorption by the surrounding secular culture of the least unpalatable broad ethical generalities contained within the gospel, while its core “plain and precious” truths – those doctrines and concepts that lie at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, would be abandoned, marginalized, and thrown to the swine, and there would be vomit in abundance for the dogs to lap up, were they desirous of so doing, as the Church, bereft of divine ministerial authority as well as its central exalting principles, lapsed into just another liberal “social gospel” mainline Protestant church, who’s focus on concerns such as “social justice,” “economic justice,” “sustainability,” and other such human messianic commitments would leave little room for the Messiah himself.

The Church of Jesus Christ would cease, as it did after the passing of the apostles in the Meridian church, to be the divinely authorized Kingdom of God on earth.  As, however, this is the dispensation of the fullness of times, we understand that a complete apostasy will not again occur; the Church will remain upon the earth until the second advent of the Savior, and will not be taken from the earth in totality as has happened repeatedly, among various peoples, throughout human history.

And yet, the attempt to hoist a golden calf (even if a smiley-faced, diverse, tolerant, politically correct one) upon church and temple spires to replace the iconic figure of Moroni continues apace, among the LDS Anointed (who are not, in must be said, that much different from the non-LDS Anointed (or those whom Kenneth Minogue termed the Olympians).

An interesting example of the mindset at work here can be found on Joanna Brooks blog, in which Brooks (here a kind of self-styled leftist Mormon Dear Abbey) answers questions from other generally liberal LDS about various aspects of Mormon life, culture, and doctrine.  Her answers, however, are not those one would expect from one who had been, not only immersed in, but imbued with, the doctrines, teachings, principles, and culture of “Mormonism.”  Indeed, her answers, for the most part, bespeak a deep and conflictual alienation from the Church, from the gospel it teaches and seeks to spread, and from the bulk of its faithful, committed members.

An LDS woman asks her about the lowering of the age of missionary service for woman from 21 to 19, and is encouraged that “my daughter will grow up in a church and culture that will promote her spiritual development, allow her to serve, and allow marriage to happen at the proper time and place.”

Faithful, knowledgeable LDS –and especially those who have been in the Church a long time – will scratch their heads here attempting to comprehend in what manner LDS woman have ever been discouraged form spiritual development, disallowed to serve, or prompted to get married outside the “proper time and place.”  Having scratched their heads suitably, they will ask upon what criteria, or basis, or from what frame of reference, such assertions could be made.

But its worse.  This change in age limitation is “too late in coming.”  That’s correct.  This two year age difference for woman (19 instead of 21) has had a devastating, crippling effect on previous generations of LDS woman.  What effects?  The questioner tells us that she is rent with “anger and hurt” left  over from being raised in a culture that “taught things about the role of women and about the timing and urgency of marriage that shaped pivotal decisions in your life?”

She does not describe these things, but we all know what they are; motherhood is a sacred calling – and indeed a sublimely sacred calling –  both in mortality and in eternity, and more important and pivotal for one’s own salvation and the viability of civil society than any possible life or career in the business world.   The role of wife and mother are at the very core of civilization as well as of the kind of life God lives, and which we can live if we are able to return to his presence through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel.  Marriage is a sacred and exalting relationship, as well as calling and responsibility, and it, under normal circumstances, as with the joys and civilizing disciplines of home and hearth, is of greater importance and centrality to life than any other pursuit.

No success, as David ‘O McKay said, “can compensate for failure in the home.

What Joanna’s questioner does not tell us is that, in the Church, precisely the same doctrines and principles apply to men as to woman.  There is a natural division of responsibility which emphasizes a woman’s primary role as mother, nurturer, teacher, and counselor in the home, and a man’s role as economic provider, but as Gordon B. Hinckley once said, in the pamphlet Father, Consider Your Ways, the married LDS man is to “live a family-centered life,”not a career and success centered life.  Career and success are proper and wonderful, in their place, as is the case, although to a lessor degree, in an optimum sense, for woman, but the center of their lives is in the family, in each other and in their children (if children are present) and the center of the center; the center of each life within the family and of the family itself, is Jesus Christ.

Brooks will have none of this, however.  This “voice” of “Mormon” life appears innocent of these essential doctrines and teachings that lie at the foundation of her Church.  “There’s no God in housewares,” she quips.  That’s her answer.  The post-first wave feminist perception of marriage as a Sisyphean dungeon of meaningless toil while hopes, dreams, and aptitudes languish in a nightmare world of Jell-O and dirty dishes (while sensuous, successful, exciting, high-powered, (and, of course, happy and fulfilled) people like Helen Gurley Brown (and her Hollywood doppelganger, Murphy) “have it all” and have no fear of flying.

Men, of course, have similar challenges to face.  Men face the temptation to center and focus themselves in money, status, and career (as do late 20th and early 21st century woman) as well as athletic prowess and the attitudinal barriers to discipleship that can attend all these aspects of male life (the modern cult of American contact sports – and most especially football – cannot be overlooked in any discussion of the special barriers men can face in being centered in fatherhood and their marriage relationship).

Mormon boys fair no better in Brook’s view.  As they prepare for their mission, they are undergoing a trial of “heartbreaking loneliness and terrible rules.”  The word of wisdom?  The law of chastity?  I never found those to be in any way difficult as a young man, and although I know that some did, many did not find such disciplines “terrible.”  Why?  The gospel itself holds the answer and key to that mystery, a mystery that woman’s studies cannot grasp, nor ever even crawl within sight of.

But the most bizarre of all is Brooks account of what LDS woman are doing while “waiting” for LDS men to return from their missions so the dirty diapers can start piling up.

You get accustomed to waiting and to looking for yourselves in the eyes of the 22 and 23 year old men who suddenly become your peers.  Except that they are not your peers.  They’re grown men back from a two-year intensive in the inner workings of the thing you love most—this Church.

This is very difficult to parse, but how is it the case that LDS woman enter a state of suspended biological and psychological animation while the men are out on mission growing older and growing up?  The men come back two years older, while the woman are still, in some sense, 18 or 19, and they haven’t been doing a bloody thing in church all day (and they’re as sorry, Uncle Albert, as anyone could be).  No relief society callings.  No visiting teaching.  No teaching gospel doctrine classes or relief society classes.  No teaching of the gospel on their own with friends, family, and co-workers.  No spiritual experiences.  No service in their community.  No working at the Bishop’s storehouse.  No callings in the stake.  No missions in their own right (in which case, they come back at the age of 23 or 24, with the same maturing experiences as the men have had, and get married anyway), Nothing but waiting for those missionaries to come home and become Homer Simpson.  If this doesn’t appear representative of what many LDS girls and woman have actually experienced in the Church, or LDS men, then you are welcome to the “club.”   And then the full, crushing, distending weight of feminist ideology raises its Gorgon head:

And you’re still an ingénue.  An amateur.  And kissing them feels a little bit like kissing your father. And that unevenness, yes, it’s part of how patriarchy works.

Kissing a guy your same age, who has been away for a couple of years on a mission, while you remained at home, apparently frozen in liquid nitrogen, feels like “kissing your father.”  I see.

“The Patriarchy” is a term within radical feminism borrowed, ultimately, from Marxism, and corresponds closely, in its own context to the proletariat of Marxian mythology.  The patriarchy is the dominant, oppressive force within society; for all intents and purposes, all males and the society they create, and indeed, maleness itself, whose fundamental aim and purpose is the oppression and subjugation of woman.  The patriarchy, like capitalism, cannot exist without such subjugation and this exploitation and oppression of woman is structural; it is an inherent, pervasive, fundamental aspect of every facet of American culture and its institutions.

It is also, while accepting the very real unique kinds of injustice and maltreatment woman have historically suffered at the hands of many men, an ideological myth (like the “white oversociety” of black power ideology, “capitalism,” “Wall Street,” or the all-purpose leftist boogeyman, the “white Eurocentric male”), and a myth that gives birth to ever more myths to support its claims to relevance when it confronts the real world.

Joanna Brooks: National Mormon Voice of the Academic Left

In a July 2010 issue of The Weekly Standard, Matt Labash wrote a disarmingly witty, yet strangely stomach-knotting, in the way that only leftist beliefs and perceptions of the world can knot one’s stomach, essay, the subtitle of which was “It’s hard work, politicizing your whole life.”   Quite.

Joanna Brooks is probably an obscure, if unknown name for most Latter-day Saints, unless one has immersed oneself in what has come to be known as  “Internet Mormonism” a favorite playground (and battlefield) for LDS intellectuals seeking dialogue and debate from various sides of the LDS fence; committed and faithful, apostate, and “cultural Mormon,” which is a kind of apostate that is not an apostate but is, for all intents, an apostate who, however, doesn’t want to be thought of as an apostate and in fact may believe quite strongly that faithful LDS who hold to the totality of the core truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are, indeed, the apostates.  There will be much more about this in later posts (especially as we enter the dark, heaving seas of political economy), but for now it is sufficient to point out that the phenomena of cultural Mormonism, while some of its members end as outsiders to the Church in an official sense, through either excommunication or by requesting official severance from the Church, Joanna Brooks presents herself as a “Mormon Girl” (which, technically speaking, she is) as well as, as her own blog mentions, ” a national voice on Mormon life and politics,” which she quite patently is not, and here lies the secret of the cultural Mormon phenomenon, a phenomenon that parallels the “long march through the institutions” of the the cultural Left that began in the seventies and came of age by the mid-eighties.

The phenomena of cultural Mormonism approximates the idea of the sociocultural, intellectual, and pedagogical “long march” through the institutions of cultural Marxism and its academic manifestation, critical theory (the generalized rubric under which are subsumed the various faux academic disciplines generated within cultural Marxism (which are really not academic disciplines at all but sectarian political ideologies masquerading as academic subjects and entire departments, of which Brooks’ own core concentration (aside from her major focus upon ethnic literature ) of woman’s studies is a central component) as it is, precisely a long march through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints, its core truth claims, its ordinances, most of its salient concepts, and its moral and social teachings.  Its purpose is the same: to accommodate the Church to the surrounding secular culture (to the City of Man, in Augustine’s phraseology) and its cultural, philosophical, ideological, political, and social fashions, trends, perspectives, and developmental paths.

Brooks’ purpose, following other dissident LDS intellectuals of note, can best be understood as a project of the domestication of a plethora of popular ideas, philosophies, nostrums, and attitudes derived  from within the overarching secular leftist popular and academic culture and in relation to which the restored gospel of Jesus Christ requires that we separate ourselves from and resist, and the grafting in, in you will, of these concepts and ideas onto the tame olive tree.  This would be, of course, the equivalent, not of grafting wild olive branches onto the tame tree, but of attempting to graft weeds onto flowers.  An intellectually and spiritually Frankensteinish experiment in “boring from within” the institution of the Church itself by a, scriptural speaking, “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who wishes to be thought of as one of the lambs (with advanced degrees, however, in ethnic literature and woman’s studies, which makes her something of an uberlamb, it would seem).

Indeed, as she’s been hailed far and wide as a spokesperson for Mormonism, one would think that her general views, perspectives, and values would be consistent with the teachings, principles, and foundational truth claims of the Church.  In thinking this, however, one would be mistaken.  The vast majority of Brooks’ beliefs and views are standard perspectives, worldviews, and ideological commitments that have been common within the cloistered, politically correct academic Left for generations now, and reflect nothing so much as an attempt to recreate the general atmosphere and temperament of the secularized leftist “social gospel” vision of the liberal mainline Protestant churches, Unitarianism, and the Roman Catholic Left, within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Passing oneself off as a “spokesperson” for Mormon culture and belief or as ” a national voice on Mormon life and politics” is sufficiently audacious to merit the expectation of dissent and disagreement, especially when the one taking these designations upon herself accepts, to all events, nary a single fundamental truth claim made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, save for its most rudimentary (Brooks believes, as far as I can tell, that God exists).

What she does appear to believe in is the holy Trinity of race, class, and gender, the abstract theoretical cultus of critical theory, cultural studies, and of the linguistic and administrative mailed fist of these ideological tumors that have grown within academia for several generations, political correctness.  She also appears to believe, in classic postmodern fashion, in the ultimate and absolute primacy of her own feelings, beliefs, and aspirations in relation to the contingencies of the external universe.  A case in point is her beliefs regarding her marriage to a Jewish gentleman in lieu of to a worthy LDS man in one of the temples in which she would not only be married, but sealed to that “eternal companion” for time and all eternity.  Her thoughts on this aspect of LDS doctrine are revealing.  To her family, she says in The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith, her choosing to marry outside the Churchwould mean that I was choosing not to be with them in heaven.”   But for me,” she says, ignoring the possibility that the church’s teachings on eternal marriage may very well be true, “choosing David meant placing my trust in a God bigger than doctrine.”  To understand what Brooks is speaking about here, one must understand that within core LDS doctrine, to achieve the highest level of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, one must be sealed (made eternally one) to one’s wife or husband in a temple dedicated by legitimate priesthood authority to the highest and most sacred ordinances of the gospel, for time and all eternity.  Those who live lives of exemplary righteousness who are not so sealed may still inherit the Celestial Kingdom, but not the highest degree or plane.  As with all such ordinances, including the initiatory ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost, sealing to wife, husband, and children must be done in mortality, while the spirit resides within the physical body.  LDS work for the dead does vicariously for those who had no opportunity in this life to perform such ordinances, to have those ordinances provided for them vicariously.  However, those who, in mortality, willfully choose to ignore or reject these ordinances, if they know and understand them, will not have a second chance in the life beyond this to obtain the same “weight of glory” as those who were willing to be obedient to the gospel and avail themselves of these ordinances and blessings during mortality, if they knew of them, understood their import, and the consequences of rejecting them.  Here lie the fears of Joanna’s family.

In classic postmodern fashion, however, and in harmony with the deeply felt despisal within the traditional Left for authority transmitted through hierarchy of any kind (born of its infatuation with collectivist egalitarianism), Brooks, the “Mormon” girl, rejects the core doctrines of her church for her own subjective feelings and perceptions of what God should be like and should accept if he is to be her God.  Since all hierarchies of authority are socially constructed by the dominant, oppressive groups within society to preserve status quo power relations, and since “truth” is a wholly relative, subjective concept that lies within each self-crafting, autonomous individual and may be different and idiosyncratic based upon each individual preference, then Brooks is, of coarse, free to think that God will accept her refusal to avail herself of the covenants of the temple and that her truth, being her truth, and being just as legitimate and sincere as anyone else’s “truth,” will remain truth in the eternities to come and be accepted by the Lord on the basis of its sincerity alone.  Like Linus awaiting the rise of the Great Pumpkin, sure of the sincerity of his pumpkin patch, Brooks rejects “doctrine” for her own solipsistic belief that the cosmos will, in the end, conform itself to her will.

Little else could stand as such a stark reminder of the essentially adolescent nature of leftism as a view of the world and a philosophy of life.  Nor does her secular leftist worldview – utterly incompatible, and in many cases, overtly hostile to the teachings of the Church of which she claims such close association that she can be hailed as, in some sense, an authority on its teachings, history, and traditions – fail to provide a window of understanding into her immersion into what Labash pointed out was a key psychological/emotional investment among many of the Left – the need to politicize each and every aspect of the human condition and subsume everything under the  overarching canopy of power.

Brooks then responds, in her most recent Religion Dispatches essay, to the announcement of a reduction of the age at which men can go on missions from 19 to 18, and woman from 21 to 19, in this manner:

This simple policy change has subtle but far-reaching and potentially pivotal implications for gender relations in the world of Mormonism.

Then we see that “The old policy communicated different expectations for young Mormon men and women, underscoring that marriage was to be the defining spiritual priority for women coming of age in Mormon culture.”  After suitably negotiating the traditional feminist horror at the thought of marriage and family, we find that while  “their male peers enjoyed community support and recognition” and LDS men studied the scriptures and learned doctrine, “Mormon women waited.”  Waited for a missionary to come home to she could get married (as if men on missions aren’t “waiting” to get married as well) or finishing college (or course.  Everyone should go to college, you know).

While the Church spoke of “lowering the age requirement will significantly increase the number of missionaries who will serve by expanding the options for when they may begin their service” and of “expanding our efforts to give more young men and women an opportunity to participate in that divine commission”, Brooks speaks of such a change in policy as one that “levels expectations and equalizes life narratives for young men and young women” and as”communicating to young Mormons that studying the faith and preparing for church leadership is a priority regardless of gender.”

In point of fact, studying the faith and preparing for church leadership has been a fundamental priority for both men and woman in the Church since 1830, when the Church was established, and is incumbent upon all LDS regardless of gender or any other characteristic.  Brooks’ relentless ideological tunnel vision – her politicization of that which the church itself and most of its faithful members sees and a greater, expanded opportunity to spread and teach the gospel she has abandoned, speaks not to what the leaders of the Church have done this past conference, but only to Brooks’ uncomprehending debasement of it.

Latter-day-Saints and the Homosexual Cause Célèbre

A pattern has long ago emerged in which we may see that a number of LDS who have moved to the Left, or come to the Church from the Left in other areas, appear to continue moving in this philosophical direction even from within the constraints, demarcation lines, and boundaries placed upon personal philosophical predilections by the gospel and the teachings and standards of the church, and tend to continue moving – and attempt to move the Church and its members –  to the Left and from what some are tempted to think are tertiary issues to ever more fundamental aspects of Church teaching, including those relating to core concepts of morality and the impact of what we might call the morality structure of a people upon the larger culture.

It has always struck me as quite singular that anyone who considers him or herself a “faithful” or “practicing” LDS and who would claim “faithful” status as a disciple of Christ and his restored gospel would be on the opposite side of a debate regarding the complete redefinition of the concepts of marriage, family and gender, concepts so foundational to an understanding of who we are, why we are here, and the nature of our potential and destiny as eternal beings as identified in modern revelation and articulated by modern prophets and special witnesses of Christ.  Not far behind this (of course) are deep confusion regarding the nature of a free, constitutional republic, the original intent and purpose of the Constitution, the meaning of the concept of “rights”, and the moral structure of “freedom”.

For most “faithful” Latter Day Saints (given the full connotations of that term in a Church context), one would think it enough that both the scriptures and the living oracles of the Lord have spoken, from time immemorial, in a unified voice against homosexuality (and all forms of sexual deviation from the laws of God regarding human sexual relations), and warned that a people who accept and support “abominations” of this kind, when that acceptance and support reach a critical mass of the population are “ripening” in iniquity, and are setting themselves up for the disintegration of their society. The Book of Mormon warns us repeatedly in clear language to be cognizant of various “secret combinations” in the last days and to be mindful of their power and influence, lest they begin to dominate society. This would include, as a matter of course, ideological or political forces seeking the overthrow of the Constitution and the Judeo-Christian foundation of civil society, as well as its political/economic basis.

This is all moot, apparently, for some, for whom trendy notions of “oppression” and “social justice” (a code-like term that carries a great deal of baggage unrelated to the euphemistic “rights” talk so common to this and other related subjects) are the definitive shove under the bus for the gospel when it presses too hard against the great and spacious building’s garden gates.

So I’d just like to offer my perspective and some clarifying observations on the issue, yet again, for consideration in the hope that, at least those sitting on the fence of this issue will be moved to move in a positive direction – toward the Ensign of the church, and away from the “political correctness” of the great and spacious house of mirrors.

Among the core arguments made by LDS supportive of homosexual marriage, which are not at all at varience with similar arguments made in the secular world, are:

1. There is a “right” to homosexual marriage in the constitution (assuming also an implied right to marry qua marriage for heterosexuals) that is being denied by opponents of homosexual marriage.

2. A continued and stubborn conflation of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s with the homosexual marriage movement (a movement that only dates from roughly the middle of the 90s as a public concern).

3. Anecdotal claims, perhaps definitive for anyone unfamiliar with the longstanding social science knowledge regarding the Gay subculture, or who has lived in areas, as I have, with a visible and concentrated homosexual subculture, that most homosexuals are in “loving relationships” that precisely parallel heterosexual married relationships and which in x number of cases, are more committed and monogamous than heterosexual ones.

4. A continuing implication, if not outright accusation, that anyone opposing homosexual marriage could not be doing so as a matter of deep, thoroughly considered principle, but only out of ignorance and hatred rooted in unenlightened and unsophisticated bigotry.

Let’s make a few brief points about the above.

A. From both a gospel and a generalized western Judeo-Christian perspective, “homosexual marriage” is an exercise in oxymoronity that it would be difficult to eclipse (“social justice” is a strong runner up) even given our present culture’s continuing paroxysms of linguistic self flagellation we know as “political correctness”. But, as LDS, we may as well go all the way and stick rigorously to the restored gospel in its fullness, which is, after all, the basis upon which all derivative concepts are based.

Homosexuals cannot “marry” each other in any intelligible sense because the term “marriage” both denotes and connotes only one thing: a union of a man and a woman (The very rarely allowed and highly controlled/regulated practice of plural marriage in the OT and among a small minority of LDS in the 19th century being the only exception to this general principle) for the purpose of their exhalation in the Celestial Kingdom, the bringing of the Father’s children into mortality, and an eternal posterity in the eternal worlds.

Homosexuality, aside from its being an “abomination” comparable in all respects to premarital and extramarital sexual immorality in seriousness, frustrates and subverts each and every one of these purposes, both mortal and eternal.

Homosexual marriage is, then, a self negating concept, even if it can quite easily be subjected to a breaking on the rack of political correctness such that the meaning of its terms take on different colorations once enough semantic ligaments have been torn and joints pulled out of place.

B. Skin color and other similar characteristics are a matter of DNA, and completely outside the control of the one who inherits them. Homosexual behavior, “Gay” identity, and the dynamics of the “Gay” subculture are choices, values, value systems and, in the case of the various Gay personae, mannerisms, modes of speech and dress, and roles played in homosexual relationships and culture, cultivated and practiced self identities. There is nothing about such forms of culture or personal definition to which the constitution speaks or to which majorities within a culture must pay obeisance.

By any stretch, homosexuals already have, and have long had, the very same unalienable rights that I enjoy. Their sexual orientation provides no compelling argument for any others (just as skin color, gender, or ethnic background do not) and marriage, by definition, being neither a right nor a concept logically and conceptually congruent with homosexuality, is not in any case a conceptual category within which the concept “homosexuality” can make any sense.

3. Anecdotal claims aside, homosexual relationships have long been known to involve severely disproportionate rates of social pathology such as drug and alcohol use and suicide, and feature startlingly aggressive rates and forms of promiscuity and sexual predation (what one could only call, especially in urban areas a kind of hyperpromiscuity).

The popular attraction within much of the male homosexual subculture for young boys, including boys well underage (the culture of the “chicken hawks”), is well known.

4. Following long established precedent in other areas of Korihorism (and its attendant Kultursmog), the assumption is made that no principled opposition to homosexuality exists. All that exists is philistine ignorance and bigotry. In such an environment, all one really has to do to win a debate is call a name.  This, however, has been the central technique of the Left, with a few exceptions, for the entirety of the late 20th century, regardless of the subject or issue at hand.

Now Korihor, as we remember, is the man who asserted that, whatever it is that we do, “it is no crime.”  It is he who argued that humans are alone in a morally neutral and ethically empty cosmos in which each man or woman is the measure of all things.  Although this philosophy has existed, in one form or another over recent cultural time, under various names and sometimes closely focused on specific areas of the human condition, today it is mostly associated with a rather vague yet, at the core, cohering body of thought known as postmodernism.

Homosexuality is a particular psycho-sexual developmental path that affects a tiny minority of the human family and which, because of its unique and inherent psychological, cultural, and spiritual dynamics, is inharmonious with both the restored gospel and the many elements of it scattered and integrated within the fundamental assumptions and foundations of western society, as well as the framework upon which other societies have been based.  It cannot be assimilated within the Judeo-Christian social, moral, or cultural superstructure upon which a viable social order in the western classical liberal sense – a free, open, ordered, rule of law, equality under the law and unalienable  individual rights-based political and social structure – is founded.  It can, to be sure, exist parallel to and partake of, to the limits and within the boundaries marked by the concept of unalienable rights and the severe limits placed upon the state to encroach upon the private, personal behavior of others by the core concepts of a limited, constitutional republic, the fundamental protections and restraints placed upon others as to direct interference with its various practices, but it cannot be assimilated within that sociopolitical form; it – not homosexuality or same-sex attraction itself as a core feature of the human experience – but homosexual culture, practices, and politics as a viable alternative to the traditional western nuclear and extended family and its privileged central place as the nucleus of civilizational viability, cannot be understood as having an “equal” status, either before the law or as a matter of civilizational imperative, to heterosexual marriage and traditional family structure.

Homosexuals can, and do, of course, go before the law and stand before the constitution as individuals with the very same rights, duties, and responsibilities as citizens and moral agents as I or any other citizen as individuals.  The problem arises, and has arisen over the last forty years, however, when homosexuals go before the law as homosexuals (or, in other areas, as blacks, or woman, or Hispanics, or “the LGBT community,” or “the poor,” or combinations of officially or ideologically deputized grievance groups), this becomes a much more serious cultural and political problem.  This same problem appears along a number of other political dimensions (the now infamous “hyphenated” American minority) but stands out so starkly when homosexuality is the subject of such political compartmentalization because homosexuality itself, as a body of sexual practices, attitudes about human sexuality, and as an essentially anti-nomian subculture grounded in the “gay” sexual identity,  presents us with direct challenges to the very legitimacy of the core assumptions and principles underlying western civilization, and American society in particular.  That question of legitimacy; the question of the inherent legitimacy of the concept of family, gender and gender relations, and the purpose, proper expression, and boundaries of human sexuality may once have been only philosophical, but in just a few decades has become political, and deeply politicized, with all that implies for the content and quality of discourse and debate about it.

Long ago, the homosexual right movement, and later, the gay marriage movement, came to understand and adopt the language of “rights” in its battle for the depriveledging of Judeo-Christian sexual and gender norms and the conventionalization of homosexuality and its subcultural attributes.  That, of course, is a process that began in the late sixties in a number of areas, in which the legitimizing of the homosexual lifestyle and its associated culture was itself a sub-element in the larger and more spacious sexual revolution.

One present front of the culture wars – the battle to redefine marriage and family so that these concepts cease to denote or connote a conceptually specific state of affairs, but can now be used to describe any state of sexual affairs involving x number of persons living together (for the moment) for whatever sexual/emotional/psychological reasons – is one of those fronts in which there is no fundamental concession to be made and no real basis of “getting along.”

Homosexuals can essentially live in the manner they so choose, of course.  Outside of religious or philosophical objections (that exist strictly within the realm of persuasion in the marketplace of ideas), they can live together, engage in whatever practices they like, and absorb, as those who have pursued  avant garde heterosexual lifestyles since the heady days of the “summer of love,” the various consequences these kinds of lifestyles entail.  The problem we face as a society is not the presence of homosexuality within it per se, but the attempt, as the Kinsey-inspired sexual revolution before it, to redefine and recreate the culture in its own image.