We can all relate to Sarah [Palin] and the difficulties of raising kids. It's only the liberals - the very same people that don't even believe that there is any such thing as sexual immorality - that will make mockery of it.So closes a lengthy comment on a Palinista blog that I monitor. The commenter wrote about her efforts to shelter her daughter from sexual immorality, including residing on a "Christian campus" for a number of years. She carefully controlled her daughter's television and movie input, and exposed her to "Christian courtship teachings...again and again and again." And yet, as teen, her daughter wound up in a "questionable" relationship and became pregnant. She concluded that
...as hard as we all try to raise our kids a certain way, we are up against a monster in society...Our culture is just full of garbage and we parents are fighting against Goliath.I'm not writing to criticize someone else's parenting techniques. Left, center, or right, we try our best against difficult odds. No matter how many good choices a parent makes, we inevitably make bad ones, whether out of inexperience, exhaustion, or ignorance. Every child who has a happy and productive life has two things in common: Loving parents and luck.
I take exception, of course, to the allegation that liberals deny the existence of sexual immorality. I suspect that we tend to have a narrower definition of it than conservatives, one based on notions of personal respect and informed decision-making. We may also be less willing to pass judgment on the choices of others. And of course, liberals view homosexuality as a function of genetics, a state of being that had no inherent moral component -- a stance at great odds with the Christian Right.
That that this Christian conservative wrings her hands and blames our society is the height of irony, since for years conservatives ridiculed liberals for supposedly excusing poor individual choices as the result of the pressures of "society." In some ways, there's common ground here in that neither liberals or conservatives see the world as a picnic. But, I don't know of any liberals who see solutions in sheltering their children from perceived evils to the extent that they can't engage in popular culture.
Nor do I know of no parent of any persuasion who wants their children to be teenaged parents. And, I know of no parent who hasn't at one time or another expressed dismay over the early sexualization of girls or the promotion of consequence-free sexual behavior in films and on television. But if the Christian conservative response is to shield their children from all of this, the liberal response is to realize that it isn't going away any time soon, and to prepare and ultimately trust their children to deal with it. The liberal response also includes the recognition that humans are imperfect, that teenagers will make questionable decisions, and that it doesn't make sense for them to bring children that they are unprepared to raise into the world simply because of an absence or unawareness of contraception.
No matter how one views themselves politically, engaging with culture and society is a quintessential liberal value, whatever its risks. Conversely, disengaging, whatever its appeal comes at too high a price in personal growth and development. At the end of the day, the liberal embraces social and cultural diversity, trusting in his or her intelligence, education, discernment, and skepticism to make mostly correct decisions. But we don't expect anyone to bat 1.000; because one can't be perfect, it's hard for us to hold it against people -- all of us, in other words -- who are not.
This conservative Christian view of society and culture as a "monster...full of garbage" drives them to both seal themselves off from society and to oppose as immoral anything that does not conform to their world view. It gave rise to a conservative religious movement to change the very nature of culture and society. The movement helped elect two presidents and control Congress for much of a 28-year period. During that time, it accomplished very little of what it set out to do.
Despite the defeat of Proposition 8 in California, there is no better indicator of this than the outcome that the increasing rejection of the Christian right's war on the so-called "homosexual agenda." Not only have champions of the right like Larry Craig and Rev. Ted Haggard been exposed as self-loathing homosexuals, it has become plain that fewer and fewer people care whether someone is gay or not. This refreshing attitude is especially prevalent among young people, the very population that the Focus on the Family types most seek to "protect."
Other examples of the defeat of the Christian right abound: We do not have prayer in public schools; nor do they teach Creationism or Intelligent Design. Roe v. Wade has not been repealed. Despite strenuous efforts, Christian pharmacists have not succeeded in gaining the "right" to refuse to dispense contraceptives and morning-after pills. Not only that, more businesses and governments offer domestic partner benefits.
This is not to say that the culture war is won, and liberals can't relax because time is on our side. For example, it remains difficult for women in rural states to obtain abortions, and the gag rule tying foreign aid in the Third World to abstinence-only pregnancy counseling will stay in effect for at least another 11 days. But there is, I think, a gathering recognition of the value, the necessity, of that rich melange of creativity, expression, temptation, and struggle called culture. We can embrace it, debate it, cope with it, contribute to it, change it. But we can't destroy something so essential to the revelation of our humanity in all its greatness, despair, success, failure, and mediocrity. I'll stand behind the liberal view of culture, especially compared to the alternative:
I try to forget this is happening. I ignore every news story about Obama. I pulled my head out of the covers the other day just long enough for it to occur to me that this is really going to happen - he's going to be sworn in. Then I put my head back under the covers.Like most liberals, I see morality as a confluence of personal (including religious) and societal values, a matter at times private and at other times public. It is a mystery to me how a conservative can rail against a "culture of death" that accommodates Roe v. Wade while at the same time supporting capital punishment and the preemptive invasion of another country.
But, then, those are my liberal values talking: Whatever my personal feelings about abortion, I oppose the state making a decision better left to a woman, her conscience, and -- if it comes to it -- her doctor. Whatever my personal feelings about the justice of capital punishment, I oppose the state sanctioning and carrying out the premeditated murder of another human being, regardless of what heinous crime may be involved. And I don't see how a nation can retain its moral standing by crying for freedom and liberty to justify acts that displace millions and kill and maim thousands.
Not that I think liberals have a corner on moral thought and action. We don't. When it comes to liberals and the Christian right, the awareness of that is the biggest distinction of all...
The Battle of Rebuilding New Orleans: June Cross writes that the Gettridge family rebuilt their 9th Ward home at great personal cost and with little help. Former Tulane professor Kera Mosely wasn't so fortunate...
Stone Soup Musings points out that while congressional conservatives are quite willing to drive down the wages of American workers, they don't mind giving themselves a raise...
Happy 74th birthday, Elvis Presley...
Crabby Old Lady thinks that all of the carping about Caroline Kennedy's qualifications for the Senate is nonsense:
Ms. Kennedy is an attorney, writer and advocate for public education. She has co-authored two books on civil liberties including The Right to Privacy which Crabby found useful during her internet career. Kennedy is also a member of the boards of directors of the Commission on Presidential Debates and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund – all of which entails a great deal more day-to-day involvement in public issues than a lot of congressional legislators have.
Citizen K. tends to agree, and believes that this is the business of the people of New York anyway...
Gallier Hall (St. Charles St., New Orleans), dedicated in 1853...
Report from Gaza: "The Israeli army issued a video of the bombing of the Hamas-run government compound, which it posted on YouTube. In it, I also can see my home being destroyed, and I watch it obsessively..." Note: I searched for the video and found this: