EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in. Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2014 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.
The rise of ISIS/ISIL/IS/”The Terrorist Organization Formerly Known as Prince” has driven a number of issues to the forefront of public discourse. “After 13 years of continual war, should the US embroil itself in yet another conflict?”, “Is lesser-evilism to be accepted in the form of the Assad regime?”, and perhaps most interestingly, “What should be the Christian response to the slaughter of score upon score of Iraqi Christians?”
It was Kat who actually outlined her take on the response many Christians in the West seemed to have, leading her to question if a kind of masochistic glee was being taken in bloodshed. In response, I argued that this absolutely is the case, and that the blood of the martyrs waters the weeds of self-pity.
One of the more divisive stories of the year was the rescue of Sargent Bowe Bergdahl, who hadn’t even set foot in the US again before being lambasted as a traitor and a coward of the worst breed. I argue that, had Bergdahl died in captivity, the very same people who’ve shouted themselves hoarse with accusations would be sobbing and lamenting over his loss. Bergdahl’s sin, like so many American military men and women, is that he survived one of America’s wars, and, in returning, serves as a reminder of the true cost of conflict, sacrifice, and hubris.
One of the last posts of the year, I decided to include my tirade against CNN’s Don Lemon not because of what he is now, but what I think he might become. His general obliviousness and gutlessness make him a bad journalist, to be sure, but the streak of relentless pettiness he’s demonstrated (see the aftermath of his Cosby-rape comments or his Reza Aslan interview) make him downright dangerous. Lemon seems to have pattern of grasping for anything to cover his ass when he gets caught in a mistake, often leading him to rely on the worst abuses of his position to defend himself. In the coming year, I can only imagine that Lemon’s “sail-with-the-wind” ethics will make him one of the most negative forces in our culture. If he weren’t so corrosive, I might almost look forward to that.
For all the sins of Western Christianity (and they aren’t few), I truly believe that it has, as both a religion and culture, been ruthlessly strawmanned by its critics over the years. In this post, I attempted to draw up some of the worst (or at least, most popular) stereotypes of Christianity and explain just how wrong and unfair they are. I argue that the general laziness in the portrayals of Christians and Christianity is not only inaccurate, but gives the real issues a free pass. As this culture drifts further and further away from a common religious heritage, I think it’s more important than ever to ensure that everybody gets a fair break.
Since most of my posts (okay, all of them) tend to focus on what I don’t like, I figured I’d end on what I do– and that came to us in the form of our new installment “Surprise Witness”. Here, we got to defend an aspect of culture which we think actually has some value, and although Evan and I only tested it out once this year, I’m hoping we can incorporate it a lot more in 2015. With it being so easy to paint things in strokes of only good and bad (and nobody’s more guilty of that than I), being able to glean something decent from our cultural refuse should be a good exercise for us all.
So what’s this all mean for us?
Looking back, it seems that we’re becoming more introspective as a culture. More and more, it seems that we are becoming actively involved in voicing our views and values, and turning criticism inwards on ourselves. How we deal with race, sexuality, power, faith, ethics- these are all rising to the forefront of our discourse. In spite of what some have argued, the Culture Wars are far from over. If anything, they’re just getting started and I, for one, am looking forward to that.
See you in the trenches. Have a good new year.