Culture War Reconsidered

Timothy Dalrymple is clearly unhappy with the notion of “cultural wars” thinking it more a term imposed on a movement than properly existing as anything.In his essay, What if the “Culture War” Never Happened?, he frames the fight as emerging from a broader imperative to engage culture. For him it is fundamentally a political task.

We can have strategic discussions; we can adjust our approach, our language, our arguments; we can work harder and harder to express our convictions in ways that are winsome and culturally relevant. We can deal with the hypocrites in our ranks and expel the charlatans. What we cannot do is simply abdicate the fight. . . .
The proper exercise of political power should be neither a matter of obsession nor a matter of disinterest for the followers of Jesus Christ. The dead are not raised by politics. But the living are protected by it. Some things are worth the struggle; some things are worth the cost.

What Dalrymple evidently wants to do is to have the freedom of political engagement but without the attendant baggage. The nature of his argument implicitly admits the damage that harsh language has done; it also draws a wider scope than the mere political (e.g. what exactly does one do with “the porn-ification of American entertainment,” a cultural referent if ever there were one). As I note (below), this desire to clear the ground for political action may actually pass too lightly over the phenomena and changes that we generally define as “the Cultural Wars.” Continue reading “Culture War Reconsidered”