This assignment not only turned us into lepers in the Chinese intelligence community, but now, by showing you this research, we’re like those lepers in that crazy story we found in your Old Testament, in 2 Kings 7.
And now, we’re coming to your gate to point to something we came to see as the hidden information was revealed to us. Because Robert McKee enabled us to see that when you look through the lens of story, it reveals that…
America is Ultimately Dividing Over Two Opposing Versions of the Simple Story Question:
Which Story Are We In?
Not to us anymore. America is coming apart because of the intensifying conflict between those who embrace the two key different versions of the story we are in.
To put it another way…
Which grand story are we humans in?
Is it the secular story, or the Christian story?
I know we’re just beginning to get to know one another, and these ways of talking about which “story we are in” were awkward for us at first.
So, to help you get acclimated, we found these powerful words by the famous author Salman Rushdie to be an eye opener:
We need all of us, whatever our background, to constantly examine the stories inside which and with which we live. We all live in stories, so called grand narratives. Nation is a story. Family is a story. Religion is a story. Community is a story. We all live within and with these narratives.Salman Rushdie, Secular Values, Human Rights and Islamism, Point of Inquiry, October 27, 2006
…see that? “We need all of us…to constantly examine the stories inside which and with which we live.”
That is what we are trying to help you do throughout this web site. Story is the lens through which we are learning to see the world. And, it is a transformative way of seeing your unfolding drama in America.
For instance, look at this insight from James Sire, the Christian godfather of the concept of ‘worldview’…
Stories give communities their cohesive character. If, then, truth claims are not seen as the way things really are, if all we have are humanly constructed stories that we believe and tell, total anarchy is not necessarily the result. This is true for two reasons. First, people believe these stories to be true, so they function in society as if they were true. Second, groups of people believe the same basic story, and the result is more or less stable communities. Communities begin to fall apart when different people within them believe substantially different stories.James Sire, The Universe Next Door
And that insight from James Sire tracks closely with an observation one of our team members found by Juan Enriquez in his book, The Untied States of America…
Country splits often become irreversible long before they are recognized de facto and de jure. So if you love your flag, your country, you have to be honest enough to recognize a country is a temporary myth, sustained, supported, and strengthened by people like yourself. And you should continuously remind yourself just how often citizens end up supporting alternate myths.Juan Enriquez, The Untied States of America
And this question has our attention…
Underlying these specific issues—and others that will be even harder to resolve—is an urgent question: How can people with fundamentally different views peacefully coexist within the same political community?A Win on Marriage—Now Protect Faith, by William Galston, Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2015
And this philosopher of yours, David Bentley Hart, understands the power of story. So, look what he wrote…
I have operated throughout from the presupposition that, in the modern West, the situation of Christianity in culture at large is at least somewhat analogous to the condition of paganism in the days of Julian, though Christianity may not necessarily be quite as moribund. I do not, at any rate, anticipate a recovery under current circumstances, and I cannot at the moment envisage how those circumstances might change.
Even in America, I assume, despite its special hospitality to transcendental ecstasies and enduring pieties, the intellectual and moral habits of materialism will ultimately prevail to an even greater degree than they have in Europe. And neither a person nor a people can will belief simply out of dread of the consequences of its absence.
In one sense, Christianity permeates everything we are, but in another it is disappearing, and we are changing as a result; and something new is in the centuries-long process of being born. I suppose some sort of invocation of Yeats’s “The Second Coming” would be appropriate here, but the uncanny and disturbing power of its lines has long since been irreparably weakened by overuse. It might be better, therefore, simply to note that what it is for us to be human – what, that is, our aesthetic and moral imaginations are capable of – is determined by the encompassing narrative of reality we inhabit.
First, for any people, comes its story, and then whatever is possible for that people becomes conceivable within that story. For centuries the Christian story shaped and suffused our civilization; now, however, slowly but relentlessly, another story is replacing it, and any attempt to reverse that process is probably futile. We are not pagans; we are not moved by their desires or disquieted by their uncertainties. We live after the age of Christendom, and cultures do not easily turn back to beliefs of which they have tired or with which they have become disenchanted.David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions
He is on to something. That is just what is happening in the United States…
[A] sense of nationhood depends upon a basic shared metanarrative that binds citizens together at a level deeper than their differences, however important the latter may be. But today that metanarrative is being shattered by a plethora of micronarratives, of which the rise of the LGBTQ community and the Black Lives Matter movement are simply the most obvious examples. To repair the metanarrative will require a massive change in educational, cultural, and legal institutions. How can we begin to do that?A MOUNTAIN OR A MARATHON? REFLECTIONS ON RUSTY RENO’S PROPOSALS FOR A CHRISTIAN SOCIETY by Carl R. Trueman, First Things, July 26, 2016
But recent survey data provides troubling evidence that a shared sense of national identity is unraveling, with two mutually exclusive narratives emerging along party lines. At the heart of this divide are opposing reactions to changing demographics and culture.The Collapse of American Identity, By ROBERT P. JONES, New York Times, MAY 2, 2017
What changed? America changed from a largely single-faith culture to a two-faith nation — sacred and secular — and it will be a two-faith nation for the foreseeable future. That’s why religious liberties are so controversial. That’s why they’ll be a flashpoint in 2020 and in 2024.
Identifying intersectionality and the secular focus on social justice as fundamentally religious impulses helps us identify the magnitude of our national polarization. The adoption of these religious impulses even by the center-left helps us understand why the stakes of our political contests always seem to rise. This is a sobering idea, because — let’s face facts — present world realities and enduring examples from history teach us that true two-faith nations often struggle mightily to maintain social peace and political cohesion absent extraordinary efforts to maintain unity and comity.
Tolerance is easy when tolerance doesn’t threaten your power. A nation secure in its identity can and should unite to protect marginalized and politically weak religious voices, and in 1993 it did exactly that. A nation torn by religious division, by contrast, will view each advance by a religious foe as a material defeat of religious friends. Unless we can break that paradigm, look for the American divide to widen all the more.Two-Faith Nation, By DAVID FRENCH, National Review, March 5, 2019
It often seems that the opposing sides of our cultural and political conflicts are living in different worlds. They are. Those who believe they are living in a created cosmos really do inhabit a different psychological world from those living after the death of God. Those whose identity is rooted in the divine order of existence are divided from those whose identity is self-created.Self-Creation or God’s Creation? Mistaken Identities and Nietzsche’s Madman, by Nathanael Blake, Public Discourse, June 20th, 2018
The loss of the Christian religion is why the West has been fragmenting for some time now, a process that is accelerating.Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option
A cold civil war is better than a hot civil war, but it is not a good situation for a country to be in. Underlying our cold civil war is the fact that America is torn increasingly between two rival constitutions, two cultures, two ways of life.
I fear America may be leaving the world of normal politics and entering the dangerous world of regime politics—a politics in which our political loyalties diverge more and more, as they did in the 1850s, between two contrary visions of the country.America’s Cold Civil War, By Charles R. Kesler, Imprimis, October 2018
I’d like to introduce you to a once potent, now largely forgotten political thinker named Willmoore Kendall. Kendall was an important mentor of William F. Buckley at Yale in the late 1940s. He was a founding editor of National Review. Leo Strauss said he was the most important political theorist of his generation.
Among other things, Kendall saw deeply into the dialectic of disagreement and free speech. It is understandable that conservatives should react to woke intolerance by celebrating free speech. The criminalization of policy differences that underwrites woke culture is an alarming development. But I think that Kendall was right when he contended that “by no means are all questions open questions.”
To explain this, Kendall points out that all societies are founded on a “consensus,” what he calls “a hard core of shared beliefs.”
Kendall was writing at a moment when international Communism posed an existential threat to the United States. With that in mind, he argued, “Some questions involve matters so basic to the consensus” that, in declaring them open, a society would in effect “abolish itself [and] commit suicide.”
Conservatives have rightly lamented the assault on free speech that is such a conspicuous and disfiguring reality of life in America today. But that loss only achieves its true significance in the context of a more fundamental erosion: the erosion of that shared political consensus, that community of sentiment, which gives life to the first-person plural, that “We, the People,” which made us who we are. Should we lose that, we shall have lost everything.Restoring the lost consensus, By Roger Kimball, The New Criterion, June 2019
At its core, politics is all about storytelling, and narratives of identity and decline are particularly potent. No matter how earnestly Americans wish for a strong, shared civic culture, they remain stuck in their own realities, railing to change a world that even neighbors may see in radically different ways.One Country, Two Radically Different Narratives, By EMMA GREEN, The Atlantic, July 17, 2018
With democracy in retreat abroad, its contradictions and shortcomings exposed at home, and its appeal declining with each successive generation, it’s 1857 all over again. But if the challenges are the same, the solution may also be familiar. Vitriol and divisiveness are commonly blamed for the problems of contemporary politics. But Americans aren’t fighting too hard; they’re engaged in the wrong fights. The universalism of the left and cultural nationalism of the right are battering America’s sense of common national purpose. Under attack on both flanks, and weakened by its failure to deliver exceptional results, the nation’s shared identity is crumbling.Is the American Idea Doomed?, by YONI APPELBAUM, The Atlantic, NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE
Rather than deriving identity from ideological systems with global appeal, Huntington foresaw the enduring role of religion and culture in shaping individual and state identity.Clash of Civilizations—or Clash Within Civilizations?, By SETH CROPSEY & HARRY HALEM, The American Interest, August 31, 2018
As Russell Kirk has said, the roots of “culture” come from the “cult” – that is, the religious beliefs upon which societies are founded. Every society is based on some kind of cult-ure and upon some form of religious and spiritual worldview. Ancient Egypt was, first and foremost, a religious society founded upon the worship of the nature gods and goddesses. Greece and Rome were founded upon belief in a whole pantheon of pagan deities that exemplified the spiritual values and customs of the people. love, virtue, courage, industry, and even pride and deceit were personified by the gods and goddesses of the ancient world. And to the degree that the men of Athens and Rome turned away from their devotion to the “cult,” their culture declined and eventually collapsed.Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die
No matter how far back or how long you look, you will find that religion was always foundational to the great societies. Whether in India, China, Palestine, Greece, Carthage, Africa, or the civilizations of South and Central America, the story is always the same. Civilization arises from religion, and when the traditional religious beliefs of a nation are eroded, the nation dies.
And, since the values and principles we each embrace tend to flow from which story we believe we are in…
My feeling is that we all need to be on the same page with this one. We have to be pointed in the same direction. Otherwise, we’re working at cross-purposes; we’re living at cross-purposes. In a world where everything is changing, the Judeo-Christian values that reside at this nation’s core should not be changed. Everything is not up for review or discussion or reinterpretation. Our principles are our principles, and we must hold fast to them as a society — because without them we’re lost. It’s only when we set down our shared moral compass- the one that points us to honesty, integrity, personal responsibility, faith, humility, compassion, forgiveness -that we start to lose our way. We become less tolerant of one another.John Kasich, Two Paths
We become weaker as a nation.
Civil wars happen when there is a profound philosophical incompatibility inside a nation. Violence and war are the secondary effects of this cause and the later phases of its development.
We are now at a stage where we can no longer discern a political unity or even organized disunity. We cannot even agree to disagree. We can discern two general groupings of messy fragments that congeal and dissolve around political and cultural issues. It is far from any neat geographic or political divisions normally associated with civil wars.
Unifying Principles That no Longer Unify
What is at stake is fundamental. Nations are formed around unifying principles to which citizens must give their assent, at least implicitly. America’s unifying principles no longer unify.The American Descent Into Uncivil War, by John Horvat, The Imaginative Conservative, October 14, 2018
And McKee recognizes how the polarization in America flows from the opposing values…
The major change that came deeper in society had to do with values. Storytelling, as you know from class, is about ultimately an expression of the writer to the audience and the reader of the dynamics of the value charges of life, and all that requires that the audience of the reader more or less understand what those values are, what their positive and negative charges are, and how all of that operates in life. But it has to be clear and agreed upon.
Today the relativity and subjectivity of values is rampant everywhere. In our society now, everybody talks about how polarized America is. Yes it is, terribly polarized.
The reason is there is one set of people who have one set of values, and there is another set of people who have the opposite set of values.
And there is no agreement between them. And so they can’t talk to one another, because their understanding of values are so polar.
And then there is everybody in between these two groups who wonder what the hell this is all this about.
And they are trying to sort out what the right, the left, and in the middle, and they’re trying to figure out what indeed is worth living for in this country.
What are the values.What Has Caused the Crisis in Storytelling Today? by Robert McKee, McKee Story, February 15, 2019
And that fits with this…
As Jonathan Haidt outlines in his studies on political ideology, there is likely a strong component ascribed to different orderings of moral values and sensibilities. Blue voters prioritize liberty, care, and fairness, while red voters have a more comprehensive set of value priorities that includes loyalty, authority and sanctity. This naturally leads blue voters to support subnational, multicultural identity groups that are historically disadvantaged in our society, while red voters tend to privilege an “American melting pot” with a distinct national identity and culture.
These value orderings tend to correlate with urban, suburban, and rural lifestyle choices. With the constant influx of new immigrant groups and young people, social change occurs more rapidly in urban communities. Exposure tends to inure us to change and make us more adaptive, whereas culturally traditional rural and outer suburb communities are less exposed to rapid change and thus can be more resistant.
Another way to approach this is by looking at the voting data on religion. The American populace can be described as religious, but the nature of belief that implies varies widely. Orthodox denominations and social conservatives attend church regularly and tend to vote red, while heterodox denominations and progressive secularists lean blue.How We Are Divided, By Michael Harrington, Better Angels, August 25, 2018
And consider this…
[A] substantial number of Americans see American identity as bound up with a certain kind of religious stance. And then other Americans feel very offended and angry at that, and think: no, the American identity is bound up with a certain kind of secularist stance. So these two ways of seeing the situation keep jacking up the ante. Each side considers the other side as betraying what America stands for. That’s what makes it so tremendously full of anger, and intractable. “If you are proposing treason, I’m not going to compromise with you…”Spiritual Gains, Religion, politics, and ignorance past: philosopher Charles Taylor in discussion with The Utopian. DECEMBER 7TH, 2010
And look where it can go…
If we go to the same abstract but important, all-encompassing level that Foucault went to, we may say broadly that politics, ancient and modern, is the means of managing fundamental differences over irreconcilable values without coming to the point of actual open violence. That’s a very broad definition—politics is the agonistic form of struggle which goes to the potential border of open violence but allows us to frame our contention over differences without actually crossing it. Foucault was of course alluding to Clausewitz’s famous phrase that war is politics by other means. In our contemporary moment in the United States and in Europe, as well as other parts of the world, what we’re seeing is the fracturing of that conception of politics, the incursion of violent language into the civic discourse, the emergence of actual interpersonal violence in the public sphere. Increasingly, democratic politics does in fact look like civil war by other means. Whether we breach that boundary, or cross the Rubicon, as Caesar did, remains to be seen. The linguistic temperature of contemporary politics has risen so high that civil war outside the bounds of politics is increasingly conceivable—and that is quite concerning.
I did not intend to write a handbook for our times, but as someone attuned to the long history of civil war I cannot but be alarmed by the contemporary dissolution of the boundaries between politics and civil contention or even civil war that we’re seeing around the world.
– David ArmitrageAre We on the Verge of Another Civil War?, By Richard Kreitner, The Nation, FEBRUARY 8, 2017
Notice too, by the way, the similarity of all these insights with what Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America way back in the 1830’s…
A government retains its sway over a great number of citizens, far less by the voluntary and rational consent of the multitude, than by that instinctive, and to a certain extent involuntary agreement, which results from similarity of feelings and resemblances of opinion. I will never admit that men constitute a social body, simply because they obey the same head and the same laws. Society can only exist when a great number of men consider a great number of things in the same point of view; when they hold the same opinions upon many subjects, and when the same occurrences suggest the same thoughts and impressions to their minds.
But things are changing in your country in ways like this…
Under present circumstances, the American constitutional future seems to be approaching some kind of crisis — a crisis of the two Constitutions. Let us pray that we and our countrymen will find a way to reason together and to compromise, allowing us to avoid the worst of these dire scenarios — that we will find, that is, the better angels of our nature.America’s Cold Civil War, By Charles R. Kesler, Imprimis, October 2018
And it looks like you have experienced this before in your story…
Timothy S. Huebner has produced a valuable study of American constitutionalism, a study that could do enormous good if people read it. Gracefully written, it is also lengthy and scholarly, which means that readers must possess two qualities—patience and intellectual candor—to appreciate the magnitude of Huebner’s achievement.
Liberty and Union is remarkable for several reasons. It explores a wide range of themes in American history pertaining to the Civil War era, and it does so with a comprehensiveness that is almost encyclopedic. In the hands of a less capable author, this account might digress into meandering side trips. But that never happens here: Huebner’s mastery of the material and his synthesizing mind keep the book on track from start to finish.
The general theme is the way our constitutionalism evolved in accordance with the underlying struggle over slavery. Two opposite constitutional cultures were at war: a pro-slavery culture that extracted from the Constitution a set of principles protecting the right to own slaves, and a countervailing culture that construed the Constitution in ways that upheld the principle of freedom — freedom for all. Huebner calls the outcome of this long-term struggle, an outcome largely determined on the battlefield, a “constitutional revolution.”Culture Clash, By Richard Striner, Weekly Standard, June 16, 2017
So, consider how these connect with the power of story…
But though building and sustaining a sense of unity in any political society is always challenging, Americans have resources that can enable them to discover common ground and recover a sense of shared civic purposes. I have long argued that political communities are held together in part by “stories of peoplehood.” These are narratives that elaborate not only the economic and political benefits of community membership but also its moral worth. No complex society, to be sure, has one single story of its political identity and moral meaning. Long-lasting societies instead display multiple stories that express the distinct experiences and aspirations of different community members — but that also overlap sufficiently so that they can inspire widespread loyalty, sufficient to persuade people to work through their differences to achieve the goals and values they have in common.To Secure the Blessings of Liberty: Sharing Stories of American Civic Purposes, by ROGERS SMITH, Law & Liberty, APRIL 3, 2018
But in the end, national identity is sustained by the stories that Americans tell about themselves, and whether these stories emphasize what they hold in common as well as what makes them different.National identity crisis makes the US more like the Middle East, BY FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, The Hill, September 12, 2018
And, look what is now unfolding in your story…
In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, an intense and widening divide resurfaced among Americans. While initial fissures in U.S. society revealed themselves over twenty years ago, the split increased into culturally distinct and regionally localized areas during that time.
Such an internal division is not a unique circumstance. In fact, ancient Greek history provides us a fitting analogy for reflection. Senior military leaders and historians study The Peloponnesian War, written by the Athenian historian Thucydides, as a footnote for strategic thought in foreign affairs. However, that war was chiefly about internal conflict in Greek society. Today, Thucydides’ relevance to America’s domestic political landscape is minimal under an assumption the United States is a unified society. Clearly, the 2016 elections and reactions give cause to question the strength and depth of our society’s unity. That and other similarities warrant a review of the context and causes of the Peloponnesian War, if only as an analogy, for consideration.
The thirty-year-long Peloponnesian War did not start overnight. Greek casus belli intensified gradually over a fifty-year span as selfish agendas became acceptable through the slow creep of greed, pride and suspicion. Ironically, the very peace Athenians and Spartans secured against Persia enabled the widening of attitudes. Tragically, Greek divergence metastasized into open conflict and, ultimately, mutual ruin.
Why? A key message of Thucydidean history is that without mutual effort for unity, a people of common heritage but different perspectives will develop oppositional interests over time. This was the case with Athens and Sparta and is occurring in “blue” and “red” segments of America’s populace.The Real Thucydides Trap: Will Red and Blue America Go to War?, By Jeff Vandaveer, The National Interest, January 16, 2017
Ultimately what is most disconcerting is that the divisiveness is not just about Trump: it’s deeply rooted in two diametrically opposed civic religions. America is no longer one country. These two groups view their national story through different symbolic mythologies.
Since the 1960s, America’s leaders have been educated through an immersion in the culturally radical and postmodernist narratives that dominate the curricula of our best universities. It has become a primary goal of higher education to sensitize the future establishment to issues of race, gender, and class, and to raise awareness of global challenges such as climate change. Elite education is no longer designed to hand down a common cultural tradition and to serve as an intergenerational transmission belt for the American and Western heritage. In elite institutions, it is taught instead that America is a great obstacle to the empowerment of oppressed minorities and the central driver of global crises. A core teaching in the humanities and social sciences is that the Western heritage represents a monstrous oppression myth conjured up by dead European white men, which, of course, has its political expression in the identity politics of the Democratic Party.The Civil War on America’s Horizon, By WILLIAM S. SMITH, The American Conservative, September 11, 2018
The moral vocabulary of the American founding is a lost language for Americans today. To be sure, there are many who would respond “and good riddance” to that moral vocabulary. Still, while the words may be the same, it’s worth noting that Americans today sing distinctly American propositions in a different key. And it’s fair to ask whether the music is so different today that we’re really singing an entirely different song.Liberty, Licentiousness, and the Pursuit of Happiness, by JAMES R. ROGERS, Law and Liberty, April 17, 2018
So, our team has come to see it’s our version versus your version…
It seems to me that only two truly overarching scenarios exist to explain how science as a human activity fits into the world. Moreover, each one is by definition impossible to verify by science, since it is science that is seeking admission into the overarching scenario, rather than providing its own. These two narrative frames are: the biblical one of linear time culminating in an eschaton directed by God’s providence, and Nietzsche’s scenario of pointless humans weaving their scenarios against an unfeeling universe.
The battle is still between nihilism and theism. There is no third option.Atheism’s Just So Scenarios, by Edward T. Oakes, S.J., First Things, May 24, 2010
There may be a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, but the biggest clash of civilizations is between the West and the Left.Explaining the Left, Part III, By DENNIS PRAGER, National Review, August 28, 2018
Lance Wallnau, God’s Chaos Candidate
This is not a conflict as some would like to make it, between opposing political parties or economic views. It is a conflict of a much more fundamental and cosmic nature. In terms of our political and social unravelling, what we have before us in each day’s news are the collision of these two incompatible views regarding ultimate moral authority.
We are in the midst of a spiritual war, not only in our country but in Western Civilization. This spiritual struggle is between two opposite and competing views of the world and humankind.Church at Crossroads: Competing Worldviews, by Don Wildmon
The Bible and the left (not liberalism, leftism) are as opposed as any two worldviews can be.Why the Left Mocks the Bible, By Dennis Prager, The Daily Signal, May 09, 2019
So, in America, the secular version of the story we are in, which now dominates the media, academia, and government, is at war with the Christian version of the story.
And, by the way, we discovered that you Christians usually call it a fight over “worldviews.”
But perhaps you might want to think more broadly and look through the lens of story.
For instance, look at what James Sire, the Christian “worldview” godfather, wrote…
Naturalism, with its pattern of big bang; evolution of the cosmos; formation of the galaxies, suns and planets; the appearance of life on earth and its eventual disappearance as the universe runs down, or reconstitutes itself by way of another big bang, is a master story. So is the notion of universes that multiply endlessly, a sort of mirror image of the Hindu notion of eternal return. Nihilism is a master story, perhaps a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but a master story nonetheless.James Sire, Naming the Elephant
Expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions. A worldview is not a story or a set of presuppositions, but it can be expressed in those ways. When I reflect on where I and the whole of the human race have come from or where my life or humanity itself is headed, my worldview is being expressed as a story. Each major worldview has its own metanarrative, its own master story.James Sire, Naming the Elephant
Both in the works of most Christian worldview analysts – such as James Orr, James Olthuis, Arthur Holmes and Ronald Nash – and my own Universe Next Door, worldview is first described in intellectual terms, such as “system of beliefs,” “set of presuppositions” or “conceptual scheme.” I want now to ask whether this is quite accurate. Does it not miss an important element in how people actually think and act? Isn’t a story involved in how we make the decisions of belief and behavior that constitute our lives? Would it be better to consider a worldview as the story we live by? Certainly Naugle agrees here: “The most fundamental stories associated with a Weltanschauung – those closest to its metaphysical and ethical epicenter – possess a kind of finality as the ultimate interpretation of reality in all its multifaceted aspects.”James Sire, Naming the Elephant
He is on to something. But you are going to ignore him, right?
So maybe at least consider this…
What if I told you that Worldview stories are crucial to human evolution, vital to our basic survival, part of what makes us human?
What if I said there is an invisible mesh-like structure holding almost every story together? And what if I could help you decipher that mesh and unlock your readers’ understanding of their world?
That mesh is the Worldview story. It’s hardwired in our brains. It’s the story that pervades all of human societies because it’s how we think. The Worldview genre is not limited to Coming-of-Age, Young Adult, or Maturation stories. It can feature protagonists of any ages and appeal to a wide variety of audiences. It can involve rites of passage or revelation. It forms the internal genre and emotional backbone of almost any Hero’s or Heroine’s Journey.
The Worldview genre is the story within every story, and mastering it is imperative for every writer.Secrets of the Worldview Genre, By Rachelle Ramirez, Story Grid
As we moved forward on this crazy assignment and came to see that you Americans are in a story war, it became very apparent that you Christians have been losing America’s story war to our secular story allies for quite some time — even though, as we’ll explore on this web site, you have the natural advantage in the story war.
But maybe you have trouble seeing this because you have pushed away the reality that, if Christianity is the story we are in, then your God is the Great Storyteller.
So, we get it, that you would not be oriented towards this…
A metanarrative is a grand story, a story that has explanatory power. All myths are by definition metanarratives. Religions are all metanarratives. But Marxism is also a metanarrative: it’s a story that tells us how the universe works. Not a very good one, but it’s a story.The Future of Orthodoxy in the Postmodern World: Welcome to the Catacombs, Dr. Clark Carlton, AncientFaith.com, July 31, 2017
And as a result, you have failed to do the necessary persuading…
By far the fastest-growing “religious” group in the United States is the “nones,” that is, those who claim no religious affiliation. In the latest Pew Research Center survey, fully 25 percent of the country—80 million people—say that they have no formal religion, and the growth of this cohort is nothing short of startling. In 1970, only 3 percent of the country self-identified as nones. In the last ten years, the number has gone from 16 percent to the current 25 percent. When we focus on young people, the picture is even more bleak. Almost 40 percent of those under thirty are nones, and among Catholics in that age group, the number rises to 50 percent. Of all the Catholic children baptized or confirmed these last thirty years, half no longer participate in the life of the Church.EVANGELIZING THE NONES: THE 2017 ERASMUS LECTURE, by Robert Barron, First Things, January 2018
And our secular story allies have steadily been gaining strength as they conquer the commanding heights in American society…
Today the facts on the ground tell us that the progressive Left dominates major institutions of American life: the universities, the mainstream media, the mainline churches, the entertainment industry, and the human resources departments of the Fortune 500. Thus, Harvard, Yale, CNN, the Episcopal Church, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley (all private sector institutions of the often vaunted civil society) are part of a nexus that I will call the “cultural leviathan,” which is allied to the administrative state.
Let us take an empirical look at this cultural leviathan. In October 2016 Econ Journal Watch published a study of faculty voting registration at forty leading American colleges which revealed an overall Democrat preference over Republicans by 11.5-to-1, among history professors the ratio was 33.5-to-1. In May 2015, the Crimson reported that between 2011 and 2014, (long before the political rise of Donald Trump) 96 percent of political contributions by Harvard professors in the Arts and Sciences were for Democrats. At Harvard Law School, 98 percent of political donations went to Democrats. The Center for Responsive Politics revealed that in 2012 Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney in Hollywood celebrity fundraising 9-to-1.Disruptive Politics in the Trump Era: Yuval Levin or Victor Davis Hanson?, By John Fonte, American Greatness, December 15, 2017
Secularism pretends to be natural and neutral, but as Mary Eberstadt has demonstrated in her book, It’s Dangerous to Believe, it is really a new religious and fundamentalist faith that dominates the political establishment, media, Hollywood, and higher education. It has its own deity (the Self), language, gospel, and teleology; it is strident and intolerant of those who don’t bow to it, but it advances by capturing the language of rights, freedom, and non-discrimination that is dear to the American identity and experience.In Defense of Pence: Commencement Controversies in an Outraged World, BY BEN R. CRENSHAW AND BRANDON MYERS, Public Discourse, MAY 15, 2019
Should you ever doubt the importance of the “narrative” to the modern Left, all you need to do is look around you. It’s the in the air we breathe, and the water in which we swim, attached to the products we buy and behind just about every news story we read or see. At every turn, we are admonished, hectored, harangued to get with the cultural-Marxist program.The Suicidal Narrative of the Modern Environmental Left, By Michael Walsh, American Greatness, November 16th, 2017
And this sums it up nicely…
At present, an aggressive, ideological secularism has taken hold of America, and appears likely to become the shape of the West indefinitely – a slow-motion advance towards another inhuman socialism.Secularism: a System Built to Fail, by Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing, October 24, 2016
So, you Christians are losing the story war. And you may want to consider thinking more broadly, like this…
Liberalism began as a political project that sought to curtail the role of religion in public life. Religious impulses haven’t proven easy to expel, however, even in secular societies. Contemporary secular liberalism aspires to be a universal project that supplants traditional religion and relegates it to the private sphere. Paradoxically, this process frustrates the spiritual desires of many modern secular people, who are unsatisfied with thin consumerism and wish to participate in something greater than themselves. Their mounting rejection of the liberal project has precipitated a crisis, one felt most acutely in the political realm. It has taken the form of a resurgent nationalism, an inchoate response to the suppression of faith that is inadequate and perhaps dangerous. We need to addressthe weakness of liberal modernity differently, which means metaphysically. No doubt, an appeal to metaphysics strikes many as strangely abstract and inconsequential. Politics is the realm of action, and people want to see church leaders, politicians, lawyers, and columnists fighting for religious causes. One can sympathize with this instinct, but it ignores the deeper problem. The dispute over metaphysics was the concrete issue from the beginning. It always has been.THE METAPHYSICS OF DEMOCRACY, by Thomas Joseph White, First Things, February 2018
And, as the now departed American scholar, Michael Novak, wrote…
In short, American civilization has lost its way. America’s struggle for independence took flight on two wings: commonsense reason and humbled faith (faith humbled into turning from the narrow way of self-centeredness and persecution into the broad uplands of religious liberty and pluralism). Today the American eagle is trying to remain aloft solely on its secular wing. In tolerance for one another, in morals and manners, in national morale, in mutual amity, its decline has been steep and swift.
Americans have lost the thread of the American story.
Lose the story, lose the culture.Lose the Story, Lose the Culture, By Michael Novak, National Review, July 2, 2016
Novak was right.
And if you come to see that the role of story was central to America’s “culture war”, then the Benedict Option guy can help you see the trouble you are in…
The culture war that began with the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s has now ended in defeat for Christian conservatives. The cultural left- which is to say, increasingly the American mainstream- has no intention of living in postwar peace. It is pressing forward with a harsh, relentless occupation, one that is aided by the cluelessness of Christians who don’t understand what’s happening.Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option
But you will ignore him, won’t you? Because it looks like you were not even aware of what was happening…
But the biggest problem is not that we lost the culture war; it’s that we never really had one. … We’re not the culture warriors we think we are, unless we’re fighting for the other side.Russell Moore, Onward
And if you continue to ignore Novak, consider this…
Ben Weingarten: As the Founders spoke to, a free society can’t exist without morality. And what you just spoke to, I think, is maybe the most critical part of all, that these folks [postmodern leftists] are moral relativists, but they believe that their morality is the right morality; their morality which says anything goes and whatever I say is moral is moral. So in effect, they’re trying to overturn the moral order, thus the cultural order and ultimately the political order. So I have to ask in thinking through the implications…when we talk about winning the Cold War in the conventional sense of the Soviet Union collapse, no one would deny that; from an ideological perspective, did we win that war?Kim R. Holmes on the Rise of Liberal Intolerance, BY BEN WEINGARTEN, AN ENCOUNTER BOOKS INTERVIEW, DECEMBER 13, 2017
Look out. Story is far more powerful than you Christians in America have been willing to consider.
And here is a way story can help you see how America’s drama is unfolding, by looking through the lens of a simple story question which we learned has faced America since the beginning of her story… Who are we, here in the story?
Questions of identity are foundational. This is why debates over our “identity” politics are so divisive and polarizing. Questioning someone’s identity just guarantees a defensive reaction. …. [I]f you are questioning what someone claims to be, at the rock-bottom foundational level, the debate will necessarily be fierce. …. So the culture wars in America are not really about what an American is, but rather about what a human being is. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).Douglas Wilson, Father Hunger
Those whose identity is rooted in the divine order of existence are divided from those whose identity is self-created.Self-Creation or God’s Creation? Mistaken Identities and Nietzsche’s Madman, by Nathanael Blake, Public Discourse, June 20th, 2018
What a division you are having.
But, we know you will be in denial over this. We know you will find it difficult to believe that story is powerful enough to play such a central role in splitting up your country.