In a defensive rant a sci-fi author describes the concerns he has posed for his side.
In a rising conflict over church practice, parishioners appeal for others to take their side.
On Facebook, you post a meme about gender politics and your friends try to convince you that you are betraying your side. Or your other friends tell you that you are on the wrong side.
Thirty years ago, the normal turning of events, of life adapting and people changing, was being dubbed “the culture war.” Ever since the game has been rigged into sides. Rather than speaking honestly about the way we are and the way we do things, it all has been cast into sides. Sides that can be easily explained away by political parties.
Yet most of the time, there are no sides. Few things are so dualistic as left and right or good and evil. Few things are intentionally divisive. And more to the point, so very few things ring close to true when the majority power claim their victimhood, whether it is men claiming sexism or whites claiming racism against them.
There are no sides: it is almost always a group trying to influence the majority.
It is a rebellion or act of disobedience: not a dualistic battle of equals.
The problem with this simplistic division – cutting everything into hemispheres – is that it doesn’t even do what it hopes to do. It hopes to explain and simplify the current experience:
It’s all politics.
It’s just a part of the culture war.
Unfortunately, it rarely makes the conversation easier to digest honestly; because it obscures the very power dynamic and the actual difference between things in the system while involving differences not present in the situation.
When New Hampshire elected V. Gene Robinson to be its bishop, it was through a process confirmed by the people of New Hampshire. When the church consented to his election, she did what she has done every time before. Every bishop from a variety of saintliness and sinfulness was confirmed in this way.
And yet the world could not connect with the story outside of the culture war context. It couldn’t understand the story, and the problems some had with the election without imposing sides onto the events. The only thing extra- ordinary about the election was Bishop Robinson’s orientation. But the “traditionalists” response was truly extraordinary because they broke canon law and tradition in seeking outside authority and allowing bishops not canonically resident in the church to guide them moving forward.
It is a messy and spiritually violent struggle that has tormented the church.
It isn’t two “sides” of proportion. It isn’t explained away by the culture war and Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition and Moral Majority of yesteryear. They only obscure what is true. A small group sought to change the majority by claiming that they really are the majority; that they speak for half the people +1.
But we can catalog a story about power, politics, and canon law as being about sex and sexuality and throw that into the existing narrative of the culture war, so we do. And we claim There are sides: liberal and conservative. They’re both bankrupt, right? Two sides being petty and stupid. Can’t we all just get along?
But Dude, there aren’t really sides. Not really. There are groups and movements. Many different groups and movements with many different interests. Some want undue and outsized influence. And the easiest way to get that influence is to convince you that they speak for a “side.” Maybe your side. You are truly one of us.
It isn’t true. It is manipulative and dishonest and I’m not taking sides. They aren’t real. I’m done with that foolishness.