If you wonder how to wade through the culture wars over science and faith and American politics, you will be living my life for the last 15 years.
Two men and two books that have helped me greatly
James Davison Hunter’s Culture Wars. Hunter is a sociologist at UVA.
His advice that I can remember:
- Find out what people consider sacred first.
- Pluralize a system if it is binary. Involve all voices, all people, not just two.
- Realize that if stuff goes to court and becomes a media circus, the whole system leans toward a binary polarization of good and evil without grey area.
Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death
- America moved from a typographic culture to the transmission of visual images across a national space as television was created. Rational political discourse was detonated when people stopped reading printed matter.
Lincoln-Douglas debates—hours and hours long responses were the norm, and the debates were reprinted to be read in newspapers
Present political debates----minutes long responses
Told me Francis Schaeffer didn’t want to entertain middle categories. He was a preacher involved in politics. Two category systems are easy to digest.
I read somewhere online black-and-white thinking is destructive in this way.
Mercury is hot, and Neptune is cold, but the space where life can exist and thrive is the grey area in which earth sits.
Let’s move beyond simplistic and reductionistic polarizations and embrace grey area in our complex world.
I was thinking about how much visual images and quick soundbbites are killing discourse. I counter that force by incorporating reading into my classes in a particular way. By letting my students read the original text of things like Common Sense by Thomas Paine when we cover the Revolution.
I look forward to any thoughts you have