Like most liberals, after seeing Obama’s victory, my first thought was not to that specific event, but rather to the other side of it. This wasn’t because Republicans lost the election – no, it was because this was their last effort. 2012, for them, was not just another election.
You see, the Republican base is shrinking. America’s demographics are shifting – and they are changing into something that does not favor conservatism. This isn’t because of a younger generation’s fear of conservative fiscal policy (else libertarianism wouldn’t be so popular among young voters), but rather because of a new inclusive left in American politics. While the right has failed to connect with minorities and under-privileged Americans, the left has. The exit polls don’t lie: if you don’t fit the spitting image of privilege, you likely voted for Obama in 2012.
This is not just because these groups were strategically targeted – it’s because they were strategically lost by Republicans. For the most part, the Republican long-game has consisted of trying to strengthen their base instead of expanding it. So for the most part, the policies – moral and economic (if you make a distinction between the two) – of the party have been increasingly favorable to white, Christian Americans. A strategic choice made two decades ago – one that had worked for years, but now clearly needs to be thrown out.
But wait, what does Christianity have to do with any of this?
In a word: worldview.
Since Roe v. Wade, American conservative politics have been controlled primarily by moral issues influenced by a “Christian” perspective. The country’s implicit Christianity served as a unifier against the encroachment of “left” (or even moderate) ideals in American politics. I could expand on this idea more, but I’ll leave it at this: in the vacuum created by the end of the Cold War (even in its winding down in the mid-late 80s), right-wing American politics needed a new pillar to support their weight. With the ever-increasing diversification of the Democratic Party, a trend that had started in the mid-20th century, they needed a unifier.
They found it in a double-down on Christianity, specifically of the Evangelical denomination(s) that were exploding due to the inability to comply with a shifting Christian theological paradigm.
For years, the right was able to use abortion as a wedge issue. They were able to corral a sizeable chunk of the populace simply because they identified as Christian. By galvanizing their entire party around abortion, they were able to restructure American politics into a Christian friendly* dualistic binary. If you were Christian, then there was only one choice: theirs. So began the creation of the “Christian” worldview, one which would later be applied to gay marriage and contraception.
They falsely assumed that anyone standing with them was standing completely with them. While they were using abortion as a wedge issue, they never realized that was the case. Republicans (at least the Evangelical Christian ones) did not believe that these people voting on this issue might’ve been doing it for numerous reasons – instead, they simply assumed that by casting a red vote, they were baptizing themselves in a Christian worldview. They believed it to be more lock-and-key than slight wedge that might convince moderates to slide just barely right.
If Republicans stood for Christianity, Democrats (anyone on the left – the leftist spectrum is considerably wider, as the American spectrum is center-right) stood for the opposite, whatever that was. It was set in stone. This was the belief: a Christian core could not fall to the left, because how could any true Christian have leftist beliefs?
All of these things helped create what seemed like a unified Christian worldview in (right) American politics. But it didn’t create a worldview: it created a temporary camp of Evangelicals monopolizing as much of the Abrahamic hold as they could.
Following the election, what I expected to happen didn’t. Instead of licking their wounds and starting to make strategic gains (and finding insight into their demographic problem), Republicans started to claim (and I’m group paraphrasing here) that America had turned away from republicanism – that they’d turned away from Christianity.
Once again, they returned to that Christian dualistic tendency: arranging everything in the binary. This was America dying, because it was becoming European – a place that had tossed off Christianity to turn to 21st century technopaganism. It was Christianity shifting to secularism. There was no way it could be both. There was no way this could be America’s tendency to elect moderates (and keep them in office). It couldn’t be a problem with their candidate. It couldn’t be their relation with the social sciences. It couldn’t be their inability to connect with minorities. It couldn’t be the exclusiveness of the party.
Leftism is relativism. It’s moral decay. It’s handouts. The coalition of the Legion overtook that of the righteous crusader.
Liberty is dead. Justice is dead. The Divine Light handed to America from the heavens had been smothered.
After all, in this Christian mindset, they have to be. Good lost. Evil won.
The problem is that the above signifies an America which is drawn in a line: one of which is Christian on one side and left on the other. This flow of belief implies that Christianity is controlled, that it is unified, that it is a total body. That hermeneutics isn’t really a thing – that Biblical scripture is as it is, that one Christianity (Evangelicalism) sits at the top of all of them. This is what the religious right in America has grown to believe – that Christianity is Christianity, and there is nothing more to it than that.
It ignores that it isn’t. That past the belief in Jesus Christ, Christianity is divided.
And so, we get to the title: there is no Christian worldview. Or perhaps, more correctly, there is no unified Christian worldview. There might be an Evangelical worldview, but there is no unified Christian one.
Ask the Anglicans. Or the Pentecostals. Or the Presbyterians. Or even the Unitarian Universalists.
Perhaps, one would argue, that there once was a unified Christian worldview – but I disagree. I don’t think the “Christian worldview” came into political play until the rise of Evangelicalism.
So what’s the point in all this?
Black and white is dying. The Left/Christian divide is dying – for it has never really existed.
For years the American right has invested time, money, and effort into the idea that Christianity is the last bastion of their power. But that’s false. Sure, if you concern yourself with a specific breed of apologetics, Christianity seems unified – but a quick chat with any proper theologian will tell you otherwise.
And this is something that has been obvious to many on the left for years, perhaps because we can see past the dualism presented by the right-defined spectrum. Perhaps, even more than that, we can see the devout Christians among our ranks. The Evangelical Christian worldview that simply assumes Christianity is cannot last simply because it chooses to define us in terms of black or white. It does so because of how it reads scripture. The prior comment about hermeneutics was not just a sly nod – if you truly believe there is only one way to read the Bible then you’re going to transpose that into your worldview, into believing that your way is the only way – and that your way is the way.
You’re going to end up believing, for four years, that your party is galvanized in the same way you are, for there is nothing else. You’re going to believe everyone who is Christian believes as you do, and you’re going to be utterly blindsided when that methodology fails you.
So the takeaway is this: stop blaming your failures on the decline of the Christian worldview, because there is no such thing. There is only your scattered view of belief – and only you share it. It is not unified, and you can no longer create an illusion to the contrary.
People didn’t vote for Obama because their worldview is un-Christian. They did so because you failed to connect with them. Put down the Bible and pick up a demographic study. It’ll do you some good.
* A caveat of sorts here: I’m completely ignoring how problematic it is to assume America is a “Christian nation,” but it’s sort of necessary for this post, else I’d end up rambling for much longer. I also find it problematic that a belief system is rooted within biblical reason in the modern world (unless your name is Kierkegaard), but that’s another post for another time.
Kamelot has, really, always been king of symphonic/power metal mountain. At least as far as I’m concerned, they’re the only band that’s producing interesting material within the genre. There’s good reason for that, too. Thomas Youngblood is a fantastic guitarist (and now producer?) and his composition is usually fairly tight. Likewise, Casey Grillo and Sean Tibbetts are both impressive in their ability to nail down rhythm. Oliver Palotai is great as well — though a tad overshadowed by his buddies.
But, okay, let’s cut to it – Roy Khan. Roy Khan has always been the reason you’ve listened to Kamelot.
As good as all of those other elements are, what really pulled Kamelot together was Khan’s incredible voice. It was unique, it was powerful – it was signature Kamelot.
But after Poetry for the Posioned Roy Khan decided to find God, and that sort of left us all wondering: what happens to Kamelot?
They answered by picking up Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder). Now, almost a year later they’ve released Silverthorn. So, can Kamelot live on without Khan’s fire?
There’s something about the bond you make with your car. I’m not sure if that’s a universal statement, really. I suppose for some people transportation is just transportation. That’s where it begins and ends. A car is just a car.
But to me it’s something more.
The older writers – the ones that lived through the 60s and 70s – they usually use words like “freedom” and “individuality” to describe what the car means. It’s travel, controlled by you. It’s the ultimate tool for wanderlust. The perfect thing to highlight American values. I don’t think that’s because of an advertising campaign, either. I think the attitude predates the marketing. Chevy, Ford, and Dodge aren’t big because they’ve been crammed down our throats, they’re big because we’ve lovingly woven the car into our national fabric, more so maybe than any other nation. It’s just coincidence that they were the three along for the nationalistic ride.
But I digress.
A car is sort of like a summary of a person. Picking one out is like going to the shelter with the intention of bringing home a dog. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense. You just see one and it grabs you. You just want it. You feel a pull. You grab it, you take it home. It looks like you. It takes on bits of you. If you’re aggressive, you’re probably not going to pick out a poodle. Likewise, if the aesthetic is important to you, your dog likely won’t be drooling on your knee.
But sometimes it will. Sometimes the pull is too great. It defies logic. You might have a small house, but you’ve picked up a big dog. You don’t care. It makes you smile. It makes him smile. The bark is all that matters.
So say the car lovers with engines greater than their wallets. Or the tinkerer who picks up a car that’s, well, German. I mean, we can beat around the bush, but no rational individual seeks out mid-90s BMWs and Audis unless they’ve got that thing, you know?
But still, I digress some more.
It doesn’t matter what you drive. You start to bond with it. I had a Pontiac G5. I still miss that car.
Now, that doesn’t really make sense. The last few months weren’t exactly honeymoon. The roof leaked. Never get a sunroof – especially not one with GM stickers on it. The whole trunk carpet had to be replaced, as well as a bit of padding in the seats. And the roof itself? Well, it only worked half the time, when you could rig up the button on the headliner to do what you wanted it to do. And then there was the O2 sensor issue that made zero sense. And, of course, there was the fact that it just wasn’t a great car. I mean, really. Not the best looking – not the worst, either, but you can do better. And the engine? It was no faster than the 2.2l Ecotec, but it sucked twice the gas.
And the seats. Ugh. They were not made for my miniature ass.
But I loved it. It was something else to me, something comfortable. I loved how it sounded. That shitty four-banger was wonderful. Sure, I might’ve thought someone was stealing my car when the mailman drove by a few times – but that isn’t important.
That thing got me where I needed to go, if nothing else. It lived with me for my first few years in college, and my last few years of high school. It carried my junk without complaint. It had no qualms about being stuck in Rt. 38 traffic. God, it was nice having a real trunk. That’s for sure.
But it wasn’t the utilitarian in me that made me love it – it was something else. I distinctly remember one day before I went to class. It was raining, I was parked outside in my driveway. I stuck my key in the ignition and just sat there, idling. I remember my eyes drifting across the tachometer, the needle fairly steady, slowly calming down from idle. The green LED on the dash read 10,000 or so – still a baby.
Maybe it was the way the light was shining into the cabin – you know, that nostalgic glow that you sometimes get for whatever reason. But I just felt comfortable. It wasn’t the best car. I’d scraped up one of the rims on the curb. There were a few scratches in the paint. But it was home, a traveling little safe space. The steering wheel (a running joke between my dad and I) was a joke, but that shitty fake leatherette felt good beneath my fingers. The cloth seats had a smell to them. Ozone, new car, and rubber.
I stumbled across pictures of it the other day. It sent me for something of a flashback. It was a good car.
I shouldn’t miss it. I drive a car now with a pedigree. You know, one that isn’t badge-engineered. One from a company that is still kicking. One that wasn’t swallowed up despite so much promise (G8, never forget).
300hp to the wheels. Styling that makes Porsche owners jealous. All that attention. Face-ripping mechanical grip. Cockpit interior. One of my all-time favorite engine noises.
Yet, here I am, 15,000 miles in, and I don’t feel it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the car. I adore it. It’s great. I haven’t been able to find anything better since I bought it. It just touches on way too many bases.
But I still don’t feel it. On paper I get it, sure, but this isn’t a matter for facts and figures. It’s a matter for the soul. For that thing that makes car people… car people. This car makes my G5 look like an utter disgrace in every way imaginable – and you know what? The G5 was poor, as far as driver-cars go. It was bad. Let’s just leave that there. We’re essentially talking about going from a commuter car to a respectable sports car. There should be no comparison. Not for a car guy.
But damn it, if I don’t miss it sometimes.
If I’m realistic, though, it wasn’t the car. It was everything it stood for – or stood in. When you go through events in your life, you often impose those memories onto things around you. That’s nostalgia. Even if those objects are completely irrelevant to the struggles at hand, you have this tendency to mesh them together. The G5 was there when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. It was there through my struggles with trying to find “my” major. It was there when I had my broken arm from the Cobalt. It drove me from GI test to GI test. It was, in many ways, a big comforting tub of metal that I could curl up in when I just wanted to get home as fast as I could.
Now – holy shit, knock on all the fuckin’ wood – I don’t want some tragedy to befall me in my Nissan. God no. And you know, I’ve been through some shit in the Z.
But perhaps that’s just the thing. It is nostalgia. I didn’t realize it then, when I was sitting in the G5, that I’d remember that one moment – or any of the these moments. I had no clue. At the time, it was just a car. Now it’s so much more, but then?
Maybe in one, two, five, whatever years, I’ll be sitting in my new car and looking back. Remembering getting my academic shit together. Going through relationship things. Graduating college. Finding Natalie. Driving to grad school and tallying up the miles. Maybe then I’ll look back and appreciate it, sewing all of those major moments into the Z’s soul. Maybe at that point the 370 will morph from just being a great car into being a part of me in the way the G5 was.
Maybe the bond you make with your car doesn’t really happen when you’re driving. Maybe it’s Freudian, manifesting in your dreams, entering your subconscious only to be revealed at a later date, when the light hits your eyes in just that right way.
Or maybe I’m just a tad delirious after reading nothing but Sartre and Lacan for two weeks straight.
So. This is a current list of all the albums I’m on the hunt for. Bold items are must-haves.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the writer self-help aisle. I have a few books about the art sitting on or near my desk – tomes detailing organization techniques, brainstorming methods, ways to unleash your inner artist, and just about everything else. Now, it isn’t that those things aren’t important, it’s just that they take a long time to get to the same damned message:
The only way to start writing is to start writing.
At the end of October I briefly considered entering into NaNoWriMo just to see if I could do it. Of course, as is often the case, November came and I had mostly forgotten about the contest, much like every other year. Besides, it wasn’t like I had any ideas in mind, right? I was empty. And there was school, too. And work writing! I have so much of that to do! I don’t have time for this, man. I’m busy. Stack of work. Oh, and that test I have to study for…
I then saw a post on Facebook by an old professor of mine – something about a writing contest. Neat! I clicked on over, read through the rules, and then immediately signed up, apparently without consulting myself.
While not quite NaNoWriMo, it was 40,000 words in one month.
Once it sunk in, I consciously decided that I had to go through with it. There really wasn’t an option. That silly Facebook post was a promise to myself. After all, do I fancy myself a writer or just someone who likes to occasionally write?
I had no story, no characters, no ideas whatsoever. But hell, I couldn’t just back out. And so, with absolutely no direction I opened up word and stared at a blank page for about thirty minutes, with zero inspiration hitting me. As is standard procrastination procedure, I fired up WinAmp, hit shuffle, then slammed “next” a few dozen times.
I ended up landing on this.
Thoughts rushed to my head. A mercenary. A bad one. Has to be a tough woman. Has to want some progress in her life. Other characters – two names immediately sprung to mind. A few thousand words later, I had my hook. I read it over once (the only time I re-read anything during the whole experience, hilariously enough), and then went on my way.
Thirty days later, here I am with 40k words and change. As a man of the short story, it is by far the longest thing I’ve ever written – and it isn’t even done yet. Sure, I hit the milestone that I needed to win the contest, but that’s hardly the point. The contest was just a seed, the tiny kick in the ass that I needed to begin the long, painstaking process of tossing myself against the page.
After a short break, my goal is to finish the first draft of this novel by the end of this month. After that, I’ll re-read it and begin the editing process. Then maybe I’ll even let someone read it. Or a few people.
Or… well, this road goes to some scary places, doesn’t it?