Letter to a Friend on the Front Line of the Culture War

soapbox_webDear Friend,

This letter may shock you, but I think we’ve known each other long enough that I can mention this.

I’ll just come out and say it:

You know that person/group that you admire so much? Well, I disagree with something he/she/they said.

I know, I know. You didn’t see this coming. You and I agree on so many things. We are both passionately invested in the same political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic. And that person/group you admire so much shares that too. Together we have all invested so much to make sure our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic is/are well represented in the world.

I know we all share a lot, but there are some differences too.

Soapbox-barefoot-wreflectionRemember, not long ago, when that person/group you admire so much courageously spoke out against/for that other person/group? How could you forget?! It became a hot button issue and was covered in all the media. As a result of the courageous statement that person/group made against/for that other person/group, there was a lot of public scrutiny and a lot of criticism.

Soon people that share our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic responded, trying to support that courageous person/group against the public attack. Some of that was well done—including the statement of support that you made. I was impressed with your tact, and I thought you handled difficult social media moments well.

However, we must agree that there was also a lot of negative in our side’s response. There was mudslinging on both sides.

soapboxI think that’s bound to happen, isn’t it?

The result of this public battle, however, is that the original statement by that person/group that you admire has become a way of testing allegiances to the political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic we share. The sides soon became definitive. Being for or against that original statement meant being for or against our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic.

But here’s the thing:

I disagree with the original statement for/against that person/group. I deeply, deeply disagree.

soapbox upside downEven though I too admire the person/group who made the original statement, and even though we share much of the same political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic, I just didn’t agree with him/her/them.

In fact, I don’t think his/her/their statement is really true to our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic. More than that, I really was embarrassed that our side supported/criticized that person/group. Even though that support/criticism won us some points now, I think in the long-term we did a lot of damage.

And I think the way we drew lines of allegiance around that statement hurt a lot of people.

I suppose, at the heart of it, I really felt let down by that person/group we admire. I think our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic is/are more expansive/specific than that. When we make statements for/against groups/people like these, we are not being true to who we really are.

Soapbox7As I sit here writing this letter, I know that lots of people who share our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic would decide that I am now “out”—outside the lines we drew, so outside of the group of people who share our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic. At this moment in time, this issue seems critical to who we are. But I think we’ve got it mostly wrong, and in time we’ll see that people who share our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic will have diverse thoughts about that other person/group.

So I hope you can accept this note as a sign of allegiance rather than a declaration of separation. I wanted you to know how I felt.

soapbox 2If you want to talk about the merits of the original statement for/against that person/group, I’m okay with that. Even if we just disagree, though, I accept our disagreement. I value our friendship more than this issue.

But more than that, I think that our political views/religion/belief/cause/parenting approach/pedagogy/food ethic is big enough to encompass both responses to that person/group.

I hope then, that you will not think less of me because I disagreed with that person you admire. I don’t think less of you.

With Regards,

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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17 Responses to Letter to a Friend on the Front Line of the Culture War

  1. Jesus never seemed to allow himself to get boxed into other groups’ definitions and the statements that flowed from those definitions. As a result every one of those groups ended up wanting to kill him. It just so happened that in killing him they all revealed the reality of who they were.


    • You are right, Stephen. And he was also the hardest on the ones closest to him. Of the major options in the 1st c., Jesus most clearly aligned with Pharisees. And yet, he continually sought renewal, self-critique, refinement, pushing inward to the heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. L.A. Smith says:

    Yup. Well said. 🙂 I would post this on my Facebook page but most people wouldn’t read it. Hence the problem.


  3. jubilare says:

    Well said. Would you mind if I posted this to Facebook?


    • Please do! I am, after all, trying to effect change. Perhaps that makes me a jerk!


      • jubilare says:

        If so, you’re my kind of jerk! The wealth of back-slashes is telling. It’s almost as if western civilization (or most of it, anyway) is just looking for reasons to be divisive.


        • I have a theory on it, but one without good proof. I think we are a drowning civilization. And what does a drowning man do when someone comes to save him? He tears and claws and fights.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jubilare says:

            It’s a good image. The question is, who is trying to save whom? It’s more like we’re all drowning, and tearing at each other/pushing each other under in a mad rush to save ourselves instead of linking arms and trying to form a human raft. 😛

            I’ve found, from observing what goes on inside me, that I am always more angry/defensive when my own faith in my beliefs (in anything) are shaken. I heard a term for it, not long ago… but I’ve forgotten it. That people cling to beliefs harder when those beliefs are questioned.

            And when people get used to having their beliefs prodded/challenged, or start feeling/believing that they are under attack by someone, they become like wild beasts.

            I posted it! The first response I got was a statement from a dear, and very-right-wing relative, insisting that the culture war is real and that when it’s over, the “Truth” will be left standing. *sighs* Maybe the message will get through in time.


            • That’s a great check of my image–I hadn’t thought of the saving part. Perhaps the better image is a single log to drift on and two panicky people.
              I think the problem of cutting people off is as bad on the right as it is on the left. But your rightwingy relative puts it so succinctly. I am tempted to ask, “is truth made in the image of God/” Because people are, and truth serves us, not the opposite. But, again, this is the problem of the lines I talk about.
              I do get panicky and angry too, but I think it is a spiritual discipline to live differently.


  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    [Circle/delete as appropriate.]


  5. jubilare says:

    Yes, it is on both sides. I could as easily have had a similar response for relatives or friends on the far Left. And even those divisions are overly-simplistic. It seems not to matter, right now, what groups there are, the lines of “us” and “them” are being more closely guarded and insisted upon.

    Aye. Like my most recent post says, we’re all messed up. But that doesn’t mean thinking our messed-up-ness is ok, or even right, any less deadly. I tend to be harder on people of my own faith in these matters because we’re supposed to love our enemy, turn the other cheek, be cunning as serpents but harmless as doves, these are our marching orders. We may fail to carry them out, but we’re never excused from trying.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” [James 1:8] I think that most people’s motives on both sides could be considered good (it’s always the minority that has the most impact though) but to me this is the logical explanation of our predicament – “Man’s conquest of Nature” will be completed when human nature is conquered. Values will then be a thing for humans to produce and to modify at will, not a thing to be guided by. The only force left to motivate us will be the force of natural impulses. The conquest of nature will thus have ended in total surrender to nature.” [C S Lewis]


    • Thanks for the note Patrick!


      • Just thought I would add this to my above note, it jumped out at me just after I posted it.
        And if we have surrendered to nature, then “If Good equals “whatever Nature happens to be doing ”, then surely we should notice what Nature is doing as a whole, and Nature as a whole, I understand, is working steadily and irreversibly towards the final extinction of all life in every part of the universe” [C S Lewis]

        Entropy observed is entropy reaching its end.

        Liked by 1 person

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