Are we in a post- Babel society?

This weeks article by Russell Moore discusses a podcast he did with Jonathan Haidt and Haidt’s article in The Atlantic regarding social media and how it contributed to the current chaos in society.

The podcast is on The Russell Moore Show and Haidt’s article is linked in the first part of the post., Both are worth the time.

Haidt advocates change in the way we do social media, child-rearing,and politics if we are to avoid further divisions and failures in society. Do you agree?

Direct link to Haidt’s article: Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid - The Atlantic

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Oh, thanks! I am looking forward to this!

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Psalm 127: Unless Yahweh builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless Yahweh guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

I wish rational suggestions for fixing what is broken could actually somehow be implemented by fiat. You just know nothing is really going to get better. But I love the idea of 18 year Supreme Court Terms and ranked choice primaries. Plus the basic suggestions for regulating social media and making it less of a toxic dump. I also appreciated his insights into parenting. Most afternoons (and all day in the summer) of my childhood were spent outside in unstructured, unsupervised play with a mixed-age group. (They were all boys, so that warped me a little, but still.) It was great, and I feel like I am an adult with life skills, social skills, and a lack of anxiety issues, so go figure.

When my daughter was in Kindergarten we lived less than three blocks away from her school. I walked her to school for the first few weeks, but I had a three year old and a two year old that I had to get them all woken up and dressed and ready to go, and so after a few weeks, I said, okay, I’m going to watch from the porch until you get to the neighborhood watch lady’s house on the corner. From there you can see the two crossing guards (to cross completely residential streets) and you just need to walk with the other kids, okay? No problem, she was off, happy as a lark, and she walked to school for several days just fine. (I still had to pick her up from school, and walk her home, but that was manageable.) Then my neighbor called me, super concerned that she was walking to school alone, which she was sure had to be illegal or something, so we agreed she would walk to her house at the end of the block and then either she would drive her with her kids (2nd and 3rd grade) or her high school age daughter would walk with them all the remaining two blocks. To me it was kind of unbelievable that people thought it was terrible I let her walk by herself. Wasn’t there a time when kids would walk a mile to school with the other neighbors and that was normal?

Before that when my daughter was 3 or 4 and my son 2, I was inside at the picture window with a sleeping baby folding laundry and they were outside on our front lawn playing (probably ten feet from me) and a cop knocked on the door and told me I couldn’t leave my kids unsupervised like that. I said they weren’t unsupervised I was watching at the window ten feet away. He said they could run into the street. I said I taught them to stay in the yard, which you can see they are doing, plus there are rarely any cars in the street anyway. He was like, “Well, you should be out there with them.” That’s how crazy things are with the helicopter parenting expectations these days.

Another friend who lived in the city while her husband was doing a PhD at U Chicago had three little kids. They had no car, so she walked to the grocery store with a rolly bag and her three kids. At one point she was at a stop-light pedestrian crossing with her baby strapped to her chest, holding the hand of a toddler with one hand and pulling the bag with the other and a cop stopped her and told her she had to be holding the hand of her four year old too. (With what third arm?) She was like, “Do you see my four year old waiting patiently next to me for the light to change? We live in the city and she knows how to cross a street without someone holding her hand.” The cop was like “But what if she runs into the street?” Argh!

Another friend had the cops called on her because she was waiting in the car in the parking lot while her nine year old ran into the dollar store to buy some candy. Someone in the store called the police because a child was unsupervised. It triggered a DCFS home visit to make sure they weren’t abusive parents. I’m all for these free-range parenting laws, because things have gotten insane and obviously no good is going to come out of a society that believes a nine year old can’t be trusted to buy a candy bar unsupervised.

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I’ve never particularly had issues with “Why is nobody supervising you?”, either because
1: I lived in a rural enough area that nobody thought it strange (since age 8). 2: I was large enough that nobody who wasn’t paying really close attention noticed (about since age 10-11).

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It won’t let me view that article, since I’ve looked at one or two from The Atlantic before.

I agree, we are overly paranoid as a society.

Regarding social media. he makes a good point how “like” and “share” buttons have been a big reason social media has gotten so bad and instruments for abuse. I confess to contributing at times, but try to share and like positive things or educational items. I hope the Genie is not out of the bottle to stay.,

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I read Haidt’s excellent article the other day, when @klax shared it in the Pithy Quotes thread. It was (among many more important things) a good reminder to make more of my Atlantic subscription.

Moore makes many valuable observations, and these stuck out in particular to me:

A small minority of people are able to set the agenda in countless congregations or denominations—as well as within political parties or universities or almost any other institution—by wielding “darts” so ruthlessly that the exhaustion causes the “regular people” to stop discussing certain matters just to keep arguments from breaking out. Sometimes that’s exactly what should happen.

This had never been clear to me in a practical way until the last few years, living in a politically and socially homogeous part of my state. The implications have become huge. The happy illusion (particularly among the leadership) that “this is just how people think” leads to a complete lack of diversity in thought, and no questions. Tension is not welcome; it is seen as bringing unrest into the Church. Tension is resolved, not by taking conflicting views seriously enough to make them part of the discusison, but by placating and soothing. But that only works for a while, when the issues are deep enough and serious enough.

For the kind of unity we need, we must be unified in doing what’s right and pleasing in the sight of God. Sometimes that means a future that looks nothing like the one we planned—seeking unity with people we never thought about.

I am doing exactly this. For my sanity and faith, I had to leave my church. My family came willingly. It would have been easier to stay, really. Disasterous, but easier. Disconnecting from the familiar, where I have been free to pretend everything was settled, is hard. It requires new learning, that for others, was done as kids. It requires starting evaluating things from the beginning again, and always asking, “Is this right? Will this work? Is it at least tolerable? What connections can I have here, and how long will it take to build them?”

We left quietly as instructed by the church covenant, but had to write to the pastors, because I was involved in a ministry. I had to inform the volunteers I worked with and tried to prepare for that meeting and my leaving as professionally as possible. Our reasons for leaving were met with shock and dismay by leadership, although we had addressed one of our concerns formally, but the others only casually. For us, to mention those things at all. But unity in the church drowned out our concerns.

Looking at an unexpected future now, and no real picture of what that will be like. I think we made the right choice, but in doing so, we’ve had to embrace tensions we’d not planned on.

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Lonely are the brave Kendel. I happily (…I gave up the will to live trying to install a batten light high up in the vestry yesterday, tottering on a rope braced stepladder at my age!*) bust myself for three churches now, but cannot have the conversation in any of them. Even when the opportunity arises one on one or two on two(**), which it has, I’m most diffident and take full responsibility for not turning up for services. I know it will come up again with several very nice people, including the excellent char-evo Norwegian vicar. I was slightly disappointed when explaining why I work more hours than I’m paid for, beyond making up for inefficiency, by citing, from the Rule of Benedict, my school motto, Laborare est Orare. (1) I had to translate (2) He said ‘Don’t go all deep on me Martin!’.

(*I gave up period, after a five hour two hour shift, went home, pondered, bought lever push connectors from the Aladdin’s Cave hardware store en route back (You think, nah, they can’t possibly have that, whatever that is, in a tiny high street shop. They do.), bypassed the absurdly complex un-connecting connector with wiring shears - all having isolated the circuit at the distribution board of course - DA DAH! And there was light. My next trick is going to be Gorilla gluing a slate twenty five foot up a roof using an extra long window pole from the top of a ladder braced in the gutter. Not as insanely dangerous as it sounds, honest. I’ll post pictures.)

(** As with the lovely Baptist ministerial couple we’re due to dine with at theirs this time. We’ll be able to pick up the conversation more freely we feel. They belong to the school of thought, like my other favourite vicar, (and many here…) that believes in last infinite nanosecond pre-death evangelism by God transpersonally. We actually went, at my wife’s behest, to their open Good Friday service. She regretted it and I’m not at all surprised why. It utterly failed for me too. The altogether lovely minister sat at the piano for a video presentation with a particular type of American voiceover (Sorry! That really doesn’t go down well in the UK!) basically doing a pathologist’s running commentary at Christ’s autopsy THAT’S ALL MY FAULT!!!. The Passion of the Christ - which I will never watch - without passion. We slipped out.)

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A few years ago I was on the city’s beautiful New Walk, early evening, not so many people about, and a little boy, 3-4, came running crying out of a side-alley. I was closest by far and went up placatingly and he was immediately trusting. He’d lost his daddy. I was panic stricken! I stood up and hollered up and down the street for ‘a lady’! One responded and came over. I kept looking down the alley and a guy came out the corner shop at the end over a hundred metres away looking everywhere. Daddy. He hid his embarrassment with unsmiling downplaying. I wish there had have been a cop present!

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Not brave. Tired. Bone tired. Deep in my soul tired.
To be clear, I haven’t left the Church but that church.

Eventually, it’s gonna happen. You’re in a tricky place, helping/working at christian churches, where there’s theology regarding sin. (I think that’s what you’re getting at.)
Looked up the Rule of Benedict. I worked hard to study German. I should have found ways to continue it, once we moved where it was incredibly hard to find any opportunity. Latin is just not here in U.S. secular society. Catholics may still have a grasp. Not sure.
Help me with “char-evo” please. No clue on that. Poor vicar is going to have a hard time, if he wants you to avoid depth.
A good hardware store is indespensible.
I would love to find out

is the truth of the matter. So far, however….
The video on Good Friday sounds horrible. I hate the type, too.
Our Baptist pastor really pushed Mel’s film, and even put a copy in the church library, which I managed for years. My covolunteer was so distressed, she put an “18 and over “ label on it. I’ve never seen it. I intend to keep it that way. There are other, more fruitful ways for me to contemplate my Lord’s death and all that it means.
I’m sorry one of the most profound days in the church calendar was so off-putting to you and your wife.

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I can verify that. I walked about a half mile to kindergarten every day alone and never had a problem. I had some trepidation early on about remembering the way. But what a great way to get over that and to begin gaining confidence about route finding. Walking in canyon lands in San Diego and in the woods when we lived near DC were a huge part of my childhood. Being the second of seven, there was no way anyone would be walking me to school everyday. Makes you wonder what other competencies kids fail to acquire in a society where helicopter parenting is enforced.

Great article too.

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Sorry! A Briticism for charismatic evangelical. I’m resigned to nobody ever actually really asking* and me never saying on the ‘theology’ of sin. Everyone’s too terrified of Jesus to really talk.

*One nice, smart person just wondered about where we attend now Covid’s in abeyance. I outlined that we’d deconstructed a bridge too far. One has to protect people.

why?
…….,……

Because He gave us Hell.

We just completed the process of leaving our sending church this week. It’s been so traumatic. Our concerns were met with a “how dare you” attitude and we (and by we I mean my husband, because I have been treated like I don’t exist at all and no one on the elder board “handling” this has spoken to me, asked Aaron what I think, or even copied me on an email over the whole eight month ordeal.) were framed as the problem for having concerns. The concerns we raised about how people in the church and leadership were treating anyone who wasn’t a Republican like an enemy and a threat and that telling people from the pulpit to join school boards and fight CRT and buy a Voddie Baucham book three Sundays in a row were divisive, political actions were never addressed. They spent two two hour meetings grilling my husband on his theology and worldview and decided he was extremely " theologically liberal" (though he’s just politically liberal, he still agrees with church’s statement of faith, everything he said was well within the statements of faith of every Evangelical organization we know of) Then they asked him to assent to ten ridiculous points that they deemed essential to interpreting the Bible (which included verbal plenary inspiration, inerrancy, the correspondence theory of truth, and that Adam was literally created from dust, things that have never been considered “essentials” at the church in our lives and I know some of the pastoral staff wouldn’t affirm without major qualifications) before they would even address the concerns he had raised. At this point he was like, that’s ridiculous, surely you can answer some questions about the direction of the church after having 8 months to discuss it without knowing my views on inerrancy. We were told the church is doing fine in its handling of race because two years ago there was a Black guest preacher who talked about it, Baucham wasn’t really “platformed” Nothing we said was heard or addressed. Instead, Aaron was told he had “heart issues,” was arrogant, unsubmissive, and demanding attention, and emailing the leadership with concerns about several things that had happened to us and the concerns about those sermons was somehow in their minds “a violation of Matthew 18.” Our church supports missionaries at two levels, one for members who are commissioned by the church and who continue to consider it their “home church” whose leadership they are primarily accountable to and one for people who have some past affiliation with the church but are currently members of a different church. Of the 13 they support, 3 are in that first category.) We had asked that we be put from the first category into the second and were trying our hardest to get out from “accountability” to leadership on an anti-woke crusade that we can’t be under with integrity but still maintain a friendly relationship with the church and visit occasionally like all the other non-member missionaries do. Well, the response was a letter to the board from the “interrogation” committee lying about Aaron, what he said, what he believes, misrepresenting things we know they have in writing, and recommending the church cut all ties financial and otherwise with us. It’s all just so painful. These are people who have known me since I was born. It was obviously stupid to think you could have a calm and amicable conversation and move on quietly without creating a bunch of drama and irreparably damaging a bunch of relationships. The line from the article about the shattering of all that seemed solid resonates so much.

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That’s hard. So often I see stuff like this and think that Christians need to understand that reasonable people can disagree about the inerrancy of Scripture, and while faith communities may be so governed by the Bible, civil communities cannot be if there is genuine disagreement. That in itself should deflate some of these overinflated egos.

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I am so sorry you guys are going through that. Prayers your way. It is difficult to reconcile the hurt people in the church can inflict with the love of Christ at times.

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Christy, this is heartbreaking to read. I can’t imagine living it.
We alerted our 4 pastors in writing. I don’t know how I would have dealt with it in person. While our senior pastor was stern in his reply, he was not abusive. Our assistant pastor was very gracious but also shocked. Still. we were not abused or otherwise mistreated.
Your situation — all of it — is unbelievable, but I believe it.

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The church was a much bigger tent until social media ruined the world as described in the article. Fifteen years ago, they had earth day worship services and our church was written up in a magazine for green initiatives because of the influence of a college professor who was an environmental activist and a member. (She moved to teach at a different college years ago.) None of that would happen today and my Facebook posts about climate change have been policed by church members as “politically divisive”. Something happened over the last five years.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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